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Sail Date: September 2014
Good and bad, mostly good. Good = a clean, quiet ship; every meal began on time; meal servers efficient, attentive -- ready with coffee refresher, ready with a second glass of wine or beer; meal portions sensible; food tasty, nicely ... Read More
Good and bad, mostly good. Good = a clean, quiet ship; every meal began on time; meal servers efficient, attentive -- ready with coffee refresher, ready with a second glass of wine or beer; meal portions sensible; food tasty, nicely presented; breakfast buffet variety of items (cereals, eggs, omelets, sausage, fruit, croissants, jams/jellies, OJ, grapefruit juice, coffee, tea, butter, honey, etc.); 24/7 quality coffee from a dispenser near the lounge; treats (cookies, pastry) always available by the dispenser; sanitary standards obviously a priority, from your room to the hallway to the lounge to the restaurant Bad = tours to Salzburg and Durnstein too much emphasis on shopping -- not worth the 2-hour trip to Salzburg, although scenery was beautiful; Salzburg bus dropped you off just outside the main shopping district (don't believe the Web and brochure of the Salzburg gardens because it is only about two blocks long and a block wide) and although some free time was available to get to the hilltop castle there was not enough time to actually stroll into the city proper to see neighborhoods and other city life; Durnstein was one long, narrow street packed with touristy shops, with the ancient castle perched above, reachable by a hike on a steep trail, which actually was good exercise; my advice is to skip Salzburg and stay in Linz to see the city there and you'll have all day to do it; conversely, not nearly enough time in Vienna, only a morning tour with afternoon free time -- it's a city worth part of another day, which could be accomplished by leaving Durnstein off the itinerary and just docking in Melk, with its beautiful abbey. Good = some of the local tour guides who actually were informative because they mentioned modern life in whatever community we were in (Bratislava, Budapest, Passau) with details about the economy, housing prices, political conditions -- in addition to the usual history info. Bad = some of the local tour guides who stuck to a script and did not deviate, had almost no sense of humor or otherwise put no personality into their talk (Salzburg, Vienna). Good = free time in Passau and Budapest to explore the cities on your own, get away from the tourist areas. Bad = not enough independence allowed you, because we would rather have gone off on our own with a good local sightseeing book rather than being stuck in a slow-moving group. Good = attitudes of ship's crew, servers, program director and assistants, concierge; all to be expected, of course, because their livelihood depends on it, but still pleasant to encounter. Bad = attitudes of too many fellow passengers who never tipped the local tour guides or bus drivers; this is inexcusable because that's how these people earn extra income and saving a few euros a day by not tipping just so you can pay for the extra booze you want is awful. Good = We did our airline travel, and we would recommend it because you can rest a day before your cruise and you can continue to where you want to go when you want to go. However, even though we booked our own flights Viking made sure we had transportation (we paid for transfer from Budapest hotel) and a Viking representative met us at the airport as the sun rose in the sky to make sure we got through the baggage process. Viking doesn't forget you when you leave the ship. Would we go again? A couple years from now. Meanwhile, what we learned was how to plan our own trip at less expense. We took trains before and after our cruise (this was a dream vacation that stretched to 22 days) and now we feel comfortable navigating Europe (English, French, German trains).   Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
Having read the previous reviews I would like to add my comments. We cruised for 5 days as part of a package organised by Leger. We have previously been with them on The Rhine. Leger's part of the holiday went with their usual ... Read More
Having read the previous reviews I would like to add my comments. We cruised for 5 days as part of a package organised by Leger. We have previously been with them on The Rhine. Leger's part of the holiday went with their usual efficiency, overnight stops, additional days touring, helpful drivers (Paul and John) and the whole package was a reasonable price. First impression of the boat was favorable, bright, airy, clean. Well organised cabin on the lower deck with plenty of cupboard space. The staff were friendly, especially the 2 girls who served most in the bars. We were allocated a dining table for the duration of the cruise and had several interesting conversations with the other 2 couples. One thing that we all agreed on was that we were disappointed by the food. We were not shunted of into a reserved corner as sometimes happens on coach tours, we were offered the same as other passengers, but it was just spoiled by cheap ingredients for example, butter turned out to be whipped with water and emulsified with the addition of several e-numbers. My husband likened the breakfast cheese to lard and the cooked meat to luncheon meat. Better cheese was served during lunch when we has a cheese course of one slice of cheese accompanied by a dried apricot or a dried fig. The menus read well, rabbit, quail, chicken, duck, hake, sole( some other flat fish was served) but most of the meat had been steam cooked and therefore was lacking flavour. My beef wellington was too tough to cut and surrounded by under-cooked pastry. The usual layer of pate was missing. My husband's seemed to be better, perhaps his was cut from another piece. Usually, we are asked how we like the meat cooked as Beef Wellington is traditionally served pink, but we were given no choice on the matter. Dessert was mostly a slice of some kind of cake. One memorable dessert was a slice of cheap, chocolate, swiss rolll topped by a scoop of nice ice-cream and a sprinkling of grated white chocolate. During the Gala dinner, Baked Alaska flambeed in Grand Marnier was on the menu. It was paraded round to the usual firework accompaniment and one dessert was spectacularly flambeed. However, our portion had not been anywhere near the bottle. We asked where was the Grand Marnier but received no answer from the restaurant manager. On the plus side, the wine selection was very good, I am told. Several different wines were freely available with special wines being offered on the Gala Night. Unlimited tea and fruit juices kept me going. Overall, we had a pleasant cruise. I would cruise with that company again but only if the boat was going somewhere I really wanted to visit. Although the food was disappointing, we did not go hungry, it was well presented and it was not inedible. On a couple of occasions I said no thanks to the starter and was offered something different, but the waiter not being sure what I could replace it with, I settled for a green salad, so the staff were helpful. Entertainment was provided by a singer/keyboard player. My husband, having been a musician for many years was impressed by the way the singer could take both hands off the keyboard, at the same time, and the music continued unabated. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
We just returned from our Douro River cruise on the Quenn Isabel. This was the first river cruise we've taken and it definitely won't be the last. We arrived in Lisbon a day before the package tour started. Since this was sold ... Read More
We just returned from our Douro River cruise on the Quenn Isabel. This was the first river cruise we've taken and it definitely won't be the last. We arrived in Lisbon a day before the package tour started. Since this was sold as all inclusive, I think our meals in Lisbon should have been included for the three nights included in the package. Only breakfast came with the package and was wonderful. We paid extra for the tour to Sintra but would not do that again. Had we known that we would just tour a palace, we would have taken a train on our own and toured the monestary and castle instead.I had some misgivings from reviews of th Queen Isabel and some of them were valid. The service in the dining room on the ship and the food definitely did not live up to a 5-star rating. However, the tours, our room, the room service, the bar, etc. were definitely 5-star. This was a very expensive cruise but overall, I felt the money was well spent. There were less than 100 people on our ship and at times, we felt as if we were on a private yacth. This ship is not owned by Uniworld and the staff, all but the one cruise director, were not employed by Uniworld. I think if Uniworld had control over training the staff, the experience would definitely be 5-star. Our cabin, though small, had lots of room for storage. The bathroom was nice and the french balcony helped with my claustropobia. Claudia cleaned our room to perfection each day. We never left the room without everything being spotless when we returned. The location of our room was perfect - very quiet. We found lunch in the lounge suited us better than the dining room. The piano music along with the view made it nicer and less noisy than the dining room. Only about 8 of us ate there each day so it felt very private with the lovely view out the front of the ship. Tours were well organized and interesting. Dinner at a private winery was the highlight, so lovely and fun. All in all, a wonderful cruise with wonderful people. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
We finally found the time to take a cruise in Eastern Europe. After some research we chose Viking River Cruises as their ships were mostly new, the pricing was good, the sales rep in California sent any and all information that I ... Read More
We finally found the time to take a cruise in Eastern Europe. After some research we chose Viking River Cruises as their ships were mostly new, the pricing was good, the sales rep in California sent any and all information that I requested, and all of my questions were answered promptly. Overall, the cruise was good. But there were some issues and I’ll break the cruise down as follows. The Good The ship, the Njord, was very well appointed and the crew was very attentive to our every need. Our original ship, the Hlin was held up by a defective river lock on the Danube, so the Njord was substituted. When we arrived in Nuremburg, Germany to board, I don’t think anyone complained about the switch. Our stateroom was also well appointed and very comfortable. Our cabin had a sliding door that opened, but we did not have a balcony. We did have excellent views of the scenery along the river from our room. The room was spotless, and the girl who cleaned the room was pleasant and also very conscientious. If there was anything we needed, she made sure that we got it. The shower were very cleverly designed. When you got into the room, the shower glass was clear and visible from the sleeping area, giving the appearance of a larger room. But when you used the shower, you hit a button, and shower glass changed from clear to frosted to maintain your privacy. The first night we met the head chef at our daily briefing and he made suggestions as to the menu choices. Everything that I tried was excellent, from the appetizers to the desserts. And when you take a Viking cruise, you can have all of your meals on the ship. The breakfast was a buffet and you could also order from a menu. There was a large selection of fruit, meats, cheeses, cereals, and juices. The menu had many specialty items that were delivered to your table in short time. Lunch was the same, with a large selection of salads and many items to choose from. Let me stress once more, all of the food was excellent, from preparation to presentation. The daily briefings that I mentioned kept you informed of not only ship procedures, but you were always aware of what times tours left the ship, and when they returned. Our cruise director not only entertained us, but kept us up to date on all aspects of ship life. Entertainment was provided several nights during the cruise, and he made sure that everyone knew about it. The concierge also spoke to us frequently during this daily briefing to provide information about the stops we would be making, arranging ground transportation, or setting up private tours. One feature of the cruise that I liked was the number of passengers on board. I had taken ocean cruises before and there were 4000 passengers aboard. There were only two hundred passengers on this ship, and I made some great friendships on board. There was no assigned seating in the dining areas, so you can meet people there, as well as on the many day trips that you take. Because the cruise was entirely on a river, you feel no movement when the ship is in motion. Forget about seasick pills and patches as this ride is a smooth as melted chocolate. The Bad  I know that they advertise that Wi-Fi is provided, but if you have a room located too far from the center of the ship, it just doesn’t work. When you go to complain, you get a series of excuses. Doesn’t work while we are in a lock, doesn’t work in bad weather, and doesn’t work while we are under way. Except, all of the ships Wi-Fi worked fine in the center of the ship, and the two passenger computers set up there also worked fine. So the lines waiting for the two passenger computers sometimes got long, and when you want to contact people back home you really don’t want to wait. Installing a Wi-Fi repeater in the aft would have solved the problem. We took many shore excursions and sometimes the quality of the tour guides left a lot to be desired. It seemed that those that were questionable were there for the money, with little consideration about passing interesting information on to passengers. One tour guide talked mostly about the trees we passed… oak trees, evergreens and so on. I finally told him that we had oak trees in the states too. When we docked in Budapest, people wanted to print their boarding passes for their flight home. Seems the only way to do this is to email the boarding passes to the concierge, and have her print them for you, but there were dozens of passengers, and it seemed to me that a printer should be attached to the computers. There was quite a bit of confusion getting boarding passes. The Ugly After dinner on my first night on board, I was looking forward to having a good night’s sleep. My wife and I went to bed shortly after dinner. We were both startled when at 4 AM there was a pounding on the floor above us and the doors in our cabin were shaking. This lasted for only a few seconds and we tried to go back to sleep. But then, about a minute later, it started again with the doors shaking and noise above. I finally got dressed and walked to the reception area. When I mentioned it to the Viking representative on duty, he said that someone had asked if they could use the track on the top deck and he had given permission. He apologized, and had the runners stop. I got to use the passenger computers as they did not have any lines at 4 AM. An announcement was made at the next daily briefing saying that running on the deck is banned from 8 PM to 8 AM. Maybe someone should have told the Viking Rep on duty that. Because I had used airlines miles to book my flights to Europe rather than book through Viking, I was told that I had to get a cab to go to the airport. The concierge offered to call one for me and Viking took the luggage from my room to the front of the ship. I was notified that my cab had arrived, and my wife and I picked out the luggage which was then carried out to what should have been a cab. I stopped to say goodbye to the concierge and she said ‘Don’t get into the car unless it says ‘Taxi’ on it. Well, when we got outside, a Viking crew member had sent the cab away, and told us to get into a private car to get to the airport. I mentioned what the concierge had said and he said it was ok to take this car. As we had to get to the airport, we didn’t have much choice. When we got into the cab, I questioned the driver and he said he worked for Viking. Hmm, I couldn’t get on the Viking bus with everyone else, but I could pay for a Viking private car. So when I got to the airport I checked with a real cab driver and the price was a lot less then I had to pay. Summary The crew, from the captain on down made the trip very pleasant. But I think that Viking may be growing too fast and has many new employees who have to ‘learn’ about what passengers think and react to as well as what they like and dislike. I would hope that Viking improves in the future and that I read many reviews here on Trip Advisor that are Excellent as I would love to take a second Viking Cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
We began our trip with Viking in Bucharest Hungary. We checked into the beautiful Radisson Blu for a overnight stay. Be sure to bring your bathing suit as their pool is beautiful and they have a wonderful hot tub. Had to have our ... Read More
We began our trip with Viking in Bucharest Hungary. We checked into the beautiful Radisson Blu for a overnight stay. Be sure to bring your bathing suit as their pool is beautiful and they have a wonderful hot tub. Had to have our suitcases out in front of our rooms by 6:30 am. Came back after breakfast and they were still there. Not sure why we had to be up so early packed up with suitcases out by 6:30. Had a nice tour of the city some were drive- bys and some walking tours. The local restaurant lunch with local entertainment was not to our liking. The food was pretty good but you felt like you were a herd of cattle. Rushed in and served so quickly in a very noisy room jammed packed. Just an unpleasant experience. We arrived on the Rinda in the late afternoon. Our room was a AA Suite which has a separate living room and bedroom. Very nice with the French balcony in living room and a veranda in the bedroom.The room was very comfortable and the bathroom had a large shower. The food was very good as was the wait staff that took very good care of us. The tours had too many people on them. Way too crowded... We also wished we had a bit more time after the tours to freshen up for the evening. Most times only about 45 minutes until evening briefings. The all inclusive didn't really represent an honest representation as you were given a sheet at end of cruise with suggested tipping amounts. Couldn't have any sodas or cold drinks between meals unless you paid for them. The amount per item for cleaning or pressing clothes was over the top too high. Three different morning we had to be up extremely early to either have our bags outside our room on day of embarkation at 6:30 am. Another day we had to be downstairs at 6:30 am for customs check our passports. Last morning have bags outside cabin by 6:30 am prompt. We noticed when we left the boat around 9 am that morning the bags were still outside cabins. These may seem like little things to you, but could make a huge difference in our desire to travel with you again. Once again the service on the ship was excellent. The term Viking uses in describing all inclusive is misleading in my opinion. They give you a sheet with suggestions on tipping at the end of your voyage. If you want a soda or drink other than coffee or tea during the day you must pay for them. Meals do cover your drinks. Don't even consider sending out any laundry unless you are prepared to break the bank. Our dining experiences were excellent. Fantastic wait staff and lots of fun throughout your meals. The destinations we visited were very interesting, but the tour groups were quite large. I guess my opinion of the riverboat cruise with Viking is somewhat mixed. This is our third riverboat cruise but our first with Viking. We had two incidents that were somewhat of a bother. Had to be up and out of our cabins at 6:30 am for a customs check of passports, and had to have our bags out for pick up at 6:30 am last morning of cruise. One other matter was the amount of time they gave us to freshen up after our day cruise. It was 45 minutes before the evening briefing began. Hardly enough time to really change and freshen up. Felt very rushed on more than one occasion. Some of you may not be bothered by any of my issues, but felt like it might be of interest to others. Just my thoughts.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
Avalon Expression is a very nice and pretty new ship. Crew was very attentive and shore excursions were well organized and probably the best part of the trip. Some rain dampened the scenic cruise of the Wachau Valley region and a couple of ... Read More
Avalon Expression is a very nice and pretty new ship. Crew was very attentive and shore excursions were well organized and probably the best part of the trip. Some rain dampened the scenic cruise of the Wachau Valley region and a couple of the shore excursions, but there is little you can do about that. Avalon has many umbrellas on hand. Biking tour of Vienna should not be missed, nor should Cesky Krumlov. Locks were fascinating. Cabins were small, but comfortable. Bathrooms were well above average and water pressure was outstanding. Meals were good and service was excellent. Only complaint was the requirement to dock along side another 1 to 2 riverboats in most ports. Sewage smell permeated our side of the ship one night due to alignment of ships. There are clearly too many long boats on the Danube this time of year. Would definitely cruise on Avalon again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
We did the Danube cruise with the Prague extension. A few thoughts: 1. Unlike other reviewers, we found the food to be good - - not gourmet restaurant but we never had a bad meal and the staff did all they could to accomodate you. A few ... Read More
We did the Danube cruise with the Prague extension. A few thoughts: 1. Unlike other reviewers, we found the food to be good - - not gourmet restaurant but we never had a bad meal and the staff did all they could to accomodate you. A few people on the ship were Vegan and complained about their choices. For the most part the wine included with the meal was good. 2. Cabin was fine - it's on the minimalist side but very efficient. We could store all our things. The bathroom was small and a 'wet room' - i.e. no standalone shower. It was manageable. These older Viking ships don't have balconies. When we looked at the newer ones when docked near them, the balcony seems to have taken the space from the room. The Legend had 2 sitting chairs by the window and this suited us better - the small cabin seemed bigger. One other passenger complained to me about her cabin. She had expected more from the brochure and she made a good point. Viking touts the 2 for 1 sale so you think you are getting a bargain on a LUXURY room/experience. For the 1/2 price the facilities are fine but she felt it was a bait and switch. (she thought there should be better linens/down comforters and pillows, more than Walmart art, cleaner carpet etc.). I agree that if I'd paid the full price I would have been pickier. As it is, I felt the accommodations were an OK value....given all the other things included in your fare price. 3. There are more OPTIONAL excursions than I thought there would be - - not quite as inclusive as expected. On the other hand, that gave you great flexibility to do things on your own. All tour guides were good to very good. 4. Downside: Viking is a victim of its own success. We have travelled twice with Uniworld (didn't this time since we booked too late) and I feel they are a better choice. Our Rhine trip with them had a smaller guest count (140 vs 190) and the staff really worked to get to know you. The Hotel Manager on Viking seemed to know people by name and would even join us in the lounge for a chat. The staff seemed to be more flexible if you had an issue - e.g. a couple of times on Viking one staff member would just pass the problem off by telling us to go ask a different person who told us to ask someone else). Also, at every stop there was at least one other Viking ship - - if not 2 or 3. For tours, our ship group was divided into 4 groups of about 40+ each. Well, that was the same for the other Viking ships; so often when we were on shore gathering for our tours there were 8 or 12 or 16 different groups forming (with associated buses sometimes). We got to joking that "the Vikings have invaded". Now, if you've only done BIG ship cruising, this seems like no big deal....but we noticed that there was usually only ONE Uniworld boat in any port and their tour timing must have been different because there was no Uniworld mob....same with Tauck and Avalon - maybe one ship to VIking's 2-3-4. So -- those people seemed to be having a more personal experience. Granted, if we'd never been on Uniworld, this probably would not have been an issue at all - - and its just a preference thing. I list it because so many people say there is little difference - but the 'little' does make a difference to some. 5. Prague extension: About 25-30 from our ship went on to Prague. We stayed at the Hilton Atrium - a convention hotel not very central and 1/2 the rooms window onto the interior atrium. Guests in those rooms were unhappy to not be able to see any of Prague out their window. Breakfast was included and it was fantastic. Viking has a big reception desk for themselves and it was total chaos. Guests from all their ships - those extending and those doing Prague BEFORE their cruise were all piling in. (I don't know how many but it seemed like 150+ people) The staff were young and not well organized. The brochure says they will help you plan your time in Prague (since only a 1/2 day tour is included in the $699/pp price - about $1400 a couple = it's not a real bargain for 2 people but being transported from ship to Prague was a plus)....well, having done a bit of research on a few things beforehand, I found I knew more about things than the staff did - they could tell you the common place things but not other things (e.g. they didn't even know that there was a tour of the fantastic Municipal building and you had to book ahead...they said 'you just walk around'). And they never offered to book anything for you. NOT a concierge experience. Also, my husband got sick the day of the tour in the morning. I went to the Viking desk to ask for some assistance and the staff person said "I'm too busy, go ask the hotel". Well, I did and they called the doctor and he visited and gave a script - my husband spent the day in bed). The HOTEL followed up with me that evening and asked how he was doing and could they do more....Viking never inquired (we'd also signed up for the optional Lobowicz tour - $135 which my husband missed. I really didn't expect them to refund it - - but it would have been a nice customer service gesture). OK - seems like I've listed a lot of negatives but all were manageable. We had a great trip, met wonderful people (be friendly it makes a difference - even if you are travelling with friends, welcome others into your little group !!). The Danube itinerary is chock full - - you see A LOT in a small amount of time - - just a nibble of each but enough to get the sense of the places and if you want to return. The smaller towns were a wonderful break - - Passau was an unknown for me and it might be my favorite. River cruising has a lot to offer. FYI, the guests on ours were about 50% USA then some Canada and many Brits. The age skews older - mid 60's up to late 80's. Some of the oldest are the sharpest and most travelled - they were inspiring (since we were on the younger end). Hope this helps you! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
We are a middle aged couple who went on a cruise which traditionally attracts retirees, so there were only a handful of people our age. The ship was the perfect size, the food was excellent, the bar service was perfect. The entertainment ... Read More
We are a middle aged couple who went on a cruise which traditionally attracts retirees, so there were only a handful of people our age. The ship was the perfect size, the food was excellent, the bar service was perfect. The entertainment was good, but limited only to a single musician most nights. The ship died and went to bed at 10PM which left us a bit bored. This, presumably to catch the early bus for the next day's excursion. The shore excursions were nice, but getting on a bus nearly every day was a bit of a drag. We opted out of two of the excursions due to the busing issue. One bus trip was nearly 2 hours. I can stay home and do that. The quality of the ship and the staff was over the top. We will cruise again, but be a bit more inquisitive as to the amount of bussing is involved. One last note, when a female tour guide smells so bad as to be offensive and leave a lingering smell on the bus and in the group, well, there should be some "discussion" about that. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
I guess from all the television hype you automatically expect something out of this world. I think the cruise is very over rated. Don't misunderstand, we had a fabulous time but we were on this cruise with 8 others, with rooms next to ... Read More
I guess from all the television hype you automatically expect something out of this world. I think the cruise is very over rated. Don't misunderstand, we had a fabulous time but we were on this cruise with 8 others, with rooms next to one another which can make a huge difference. It was nice to have maybe 200 guests on the cruise as it was more intimate than normal and you were able to get to know some very nice people from all over. The ship is small which makes it easy to get around. Aside from sitting in the lounge or upper deck during down time, there isn't too much to do. However, on the up side, because you are on the river, you get to see some beautiful scenery. The crew was outstanding especially the tour director. She was so accommodating. If you wanted to deviate from the morning tour arrangements could be made. Rules on this cruise can be broken and that's only because you are not on board with 3 thousand plus passengers. Every night there was a cocktail hour but you had to pay for these drinks which I wasn't pleased about. The wine,beer,soft drinks,etc...are only free during meal times. During the cocktail hour the tour director would discuss the next days plans so you knew exactly when you had to be up, etc,,, This was very helpful. The food on the ship was inconsistent. Some nights the food was excellent, others not so good. There was one schedule for meals, usually two hours for lunch and two hours for dinner which was fine until one day because of the time of our excursion, lunch started at 11 in the morning. I skipped breakfast that day and went right to lunch. When we got back to the ship after the excursion we were very hungry. The kitchen is closed and all they have during off hours is cookies, coffee,tea, etc.. We were not happy about this. There should be some sort of healthy snack on the boat, something to hold you over before dinner. Previous to this little episode, I was told by the maitre'd that if we are hungry to just go to the bar and they have a menu and we could get something to eat. WRONG! This was how we found out the kitchen was closed. Most of the excursions were very well done with very knowledgable tour guides. Their tipping guide for the crew, we felt was high, however we gave a certain amount for the crew because all tips are divided and then gave certain crew members individual tips. The up side of the crew splitting tips is that, especially at dinner, you can ask anyone to help you out. It doesn't have to be, for example,your waiter. Entertainment or the lack of, consisted of a piano player at night in the lounge. Since the crowd in the lounge wasn't huge, it would have been nice if the piano player interacted more with the passengers. This didn't happen. Would I do a River Cruise again? It's questionable. If you are looking strictly for a rest and relaxing cruise, then this is the way to go. If you are looking to be busy constantly and to be entertained constantly,then this type of cruise is not for you. We had a great time but were traveling with a fun group of people.   Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
We went on the 12 day vietnam Cambodia tour including 7 nights river cruising. Started in Saigon at Sheraton, had a wonderful Luke Nguyen inspired degustation at Xu, absolutely faultless! Went to the Tunnels which was an eye opener, ... Read More
We went on the 12 day vietnam Cambodia tour including 7 nights river cruising. Started in Saigon at Sheraton, had a wonderful Luke Nguyen inspired degustation at Xu, absolutely faultless! Went to the Tunnels which was an eye opener, especially when one person at the tunnels told us he had lived in the tunnels for 12 years during the vietnam war...unbeleivable!!!!! Did an amazing cookery class in Saigon. Breakfast at Sheraton was brilliant, our guide in Saigon was great. After 2 days we got on the boat, which was in good condition, aparently only a couple of years old, I believe. The staff on the cruise were very good and tried to learn our names and what we liked to have, they tried hard to please. The food was okay, and the steak was excellent although sometimes a little rare. The salads became a bit boring and the menu was a bit limiting. The wine was often off or undrinkable, however each time we complained of this, which was often, they would replace with a slightly better wine that was not off. This was a bit tiresome and would have preferred that APT supply at least bottled wine of a better quality so often we purchased bottles wine. My husband complained, but it still kept happening. Vietnam and Cambodia was an eye opener, as to the amount of poverty, but the people seemed to be happy and clean. We were shocked by how the war had affected so many and cruising along you get to see the poverty which was very sad. The tour guides and cruise director had great sense of humour and spoke pretty good english. Some of the tours were too drawn out and could have been done in half the time, which often made it boring.i.e. In Siem Reap, we got up at 4.00 am to meet at 4.45 to go to Angkor Wat to take photos, which was a few minutes drive away, after getting tickets and after a short walk in, although the day was cloudy I still managed to get some nice shots. We then stood around doing nothing, and some wandered over to have a coffee or champagne and at 7.00 oclock , I was too bored by the waiting and went back to the hotel on a tuk tuk and advised the tour organiser of this. Whilst I was having breakfast I noticed several other people also did the same as me. The bus ride to Siem Reap was supposed to be 5 hrs, and we were told a few days before that they had been working on the bridge for the past couple of years and we could not go upstream any further and the trip could be perhaps 5.5 hrs. It was a very unconfortable 6.5 hrs, the road had been damaged by flooding some time previously and the road was extremely bumpy and dusty. We stopped twice for a toilet stop and were not given any lunch even though we started off at 8.00am but were told to purchase a snack at the WC stop, which consisted of chippies, biscuits etc. We got to the hotel and were told a club sandwhich with beer or softdrink had been organised but at our cost I thought this was not well handled by APT. A 6.5 hr bumpy dusty bus trip should have at least had a meal supplied by APT during the ride, especially when they had known the length of time it would take and what the road was like, as the floods had happened several months ago. .After the long and dusty bus ride some of our luggage was completely covered in dust and when at the hotel we put a back pack on the bed, which left a filthy brown mark, as it did on my clothes. The Sofitel in Siem Reap was very very nice in a beautiful setting. I had a cookery class, except they cancelled, even though there were 8 people wanting to do it and was booked in for a massage as a 2nd choice. APT later arranged a cooking class, at our cost, and we had to cancel the massage as it was at the same time, and could not make another time. The cooking class was nice and we had a lovely meal there. We were unable to get a return flight from Siem Reap and had to stay an extra night so we chose not to take the APT included flights and got a $500 rebate and purchased business class, although we cld not get a connecting flight from Singapore to home and also had to stay extra time there. We had been met at the airport in Saigon by APT, but we were only 1 couple out of 3 couples that were not given a delivery to the airport by APT as were leaving, but fortunately Sofitel,( as we chose to stay in a suite), kindly offered to take us there in their hotel car. Although we are avid small ship cruisers, and had not done any river cruising before, we have thought a lot about the trip since leaving and will probably try a river cruise in Europe at some stage, as we had met a lot of wonderful people on board Amalotus which made for an amazing time.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
Chateaux, Rivers & Wine - our first Viking experience. Having sailed on several river cruises previously, we came with great expectations. Here are some of our impressions: 1) Flight arrangements by Viking We booked our cruise some ... Read More
Chateaux, Rivers & Wine - our first Viking experience. Having sailed on several river cruises previously, we came with great expectations. Here are some of our impressions: 1) Flight arrangements by Viking We booked our cruise some 10 months prior to sailing, but our flight arrangements were made only 90 days prior. I wish we had booked our own flights. Our connections were not good; in fact we had a one hour, 10 minute connection at JFK on the return flight which required a miracle. Keep in mind that it takes time to get off the plane, then you hike a mile and are in line with hundreds of fellow travelers to go through immigration. You have to pick up your checked luggage for inspection, go through customs and return your luggage to be put on your next flight. Then you have to take the tram to change to a different terminal, go again through a security check and find your gate which is at the far end of the terminal - All this in just slightly over an hour. Good luck. The only way we could make it was to ask for airport assistance and we were assigned an individual who bypassed all the lines, scooted through restricted areas, made us jump over barricades, took shortcuts through secret tunnels and got us to the gate just on time. “Richie Rich” was his nick name. He was a true character and his performance wound up to be one of the highlights of our trip. 2) Let’s come back to our cruise experience Our pick-up at the Bordeaux airport went as planned. We were taken to the ship by bus and were welcomed by a friendly staff. A cold buffet lunch was offered. My first impression of the food was “Oh, my God” (it was not a good “Oh my God”). There were a few skimpy sandwiches, which reminded me of a school cafeteria lunch - not what I expected from French cuisine. Our last cruise on the Seine River with a different cruise line really had us spoiled. Throughout the cruise, our impression of the food was mixed. The only dinner that fully lived up to our expectations was the Captain’s dinner on the last night. Additionally, I appreciated the variety of delicious French cheeses which were always available. 3) The service staff was excellent. From the Austrian hotel manager to the Greek waitress to the Portuguese bar waiter we truly were impressed by the professionalism of the service staff. Whoever was in charge of selecting, training and supervising the staff should be complimented. The same was true for the housekeeping staff. All employees were extremely friendly and courteous, as well as top notch professionals. Their uniforms always crisp and spotless. It was a pleasure being surrounded by employees who really seemed to enjoy what they were doing. 4) The cleanliness of the ship left nothing to be desired. Our cabin was reasonably comfortable, the bathroom and shower were a good size for a river boat, the bed was comfortable, there was plenty of space for our wardrobe and the safe was in a convenient location. Our room was made up on time, the linens were crisp. Everything was quite satisfactory. We enjoyed the keyless entry system, which reminded us of the London underground, i.e. you could leave the magnetic card in your wallet and just hold the wallet close to the lock in order to open it. Very convenient and innovative. 5) The cruise itinerary was a little disappointing. Bordeaux was used as a base and the ship cruised up and down the 3 rivers (Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde) for very short distances. The scenery along the rivers was unexciting – mostly industrial and flatland. Unlike other river itineraries there were no vineyards visible from the ship and no mountains topped with historic castles. The towns of Pauillac, Blaye, Libourne and Cadillac, where the ship anchored have historic sights and we enjoyed the sightseeing tours, as well as the history lessons given by the guides. Most guides were British and could be well understood by English speaking passengers. 6) Shore excursions: Our charming tour director Alexandria was always busy. The daily briefings informed us as to what to expect the next day. Various history classes explained the past of the region back to roman times and beyond. As expected, the cruise was largely about wines. Various bus excursions took us past the most prestige chateaux and past endless acreage of meticulously planted vineyards. Some 8,000 chateaux of the Bordeaux region are nestled along narrow highways. We recognized several of the names, but of course many of them only have a local reputation. We stopped at the Chateau Giscours for a wine lesson and tasting which we enjoyed. The very pleasant ending of one of the excursions was a 5 course dinner at the Chateau Kirwan paired with their wines, which was delightful. The highlight was a 33 years old vintage of their wine. 7) Optional excursions: We took two of the optional excursions which we enjoyed. The truffle tour took us on a 2 hour bus ride through the country side and wound up at the home of the truffle farmer. His demonstrations and lectures were quite interesting and being invited to his home for a lunch prepared by his wife was a humbling experience. The optional tour to Arcachon was also quite enjoyable. The bus took us to the Arcachon Bay where we explored the area aboard a small ship. An oyster farmer explained his craft and a local fish restaurant served us one the best meals we had on this cruise. It was a nice excursion but a bit pricy. 8) The entertainment on board was not what we expected. Being in France we expected a more French atmosphere. The lounge pianist played mostly American tunes and the background music as well was not French. A pleasant surprise was the performance by 3 opera singers of the Bordeaux Grand Theater who came onboard to sing well known arias by French composers as well as folkloric music. It was very enjoyable. 9) Customer survey: On the last day of our cruise we were handed a 4 page customer satisfaction survey. As mentioned above, we there were parts of the cruise we enjoyed more, others we enjoyed less. I felt that the 4 options given to rate our satisfaction were poorly chosen. The categories were “much higher than expected” “higher than expected” “as expected” and finely “less than expected” For example, the cleanliness of the ship was immaculate, however if I gave it the highest rating “much higher than expected” that would mean I expected a dirty ship, which I certainly did not. Do you get my point? I answered most categories with “as expected”, because I expected a certain level of quality. On the other hand there were areas below my expectations, but the answer on the questionnaire did not disserve the lowest rating. It is my understanding that Bordeaux is a new itinerary for Viking. As this cruise becomes more established some of the low points will work themselves out.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
Although all details of our outward and homeward journeys from and to Bristol went according to plan, felt that as we lived in Bristol and had an airport that flew direct to Marseille, the fact that we had to go via Amsterdam which ... Read More
Although all details of our outward and homeward journeys from and to Bristol went according to plan, felt that as we lived in Bristol and had an airport that flew direct to Marseille, the fact that we had to go via Amsterdam which incorporated 2 flights each way was definitely not in our best interest. The 'Buri' was indeed all that we had hoped for and more in that it was kept immaculately clean and well maintained and the staff were all very friendly and willing to help in any way they could. The food was definitely all that we had anticipated with wine flowing freely during lunch and dinner periods. We had previously spent a river cruise on the Rhine not with Viking, and were disappointed that when we docked we then had to be coached to places of interest, whereas on the Rhine we actually docked at the places of interest and were able to wander at will and not constantly being put onto coaches. The guides that were provided for these on shore excursions were excellent and very knowledgeable, and although my husband is hard of hearing, with the 'walkie talkie' devices we were given, he was able to heard all the relevant information, which certainly helped with his enjoyment of this holiday. However, we were not impressed that the sun deck was not accessible for quite a large amount of the time we were on board,and also that the latter part of our 'cruise' we were berthed in Lyon and had to be coached to the latter destination as the ship couldn't navigate under the bridges owing to the swollen river! We felt that the Viking ships were too large for this particular river and would have been better being one deck less, thus allowing people to enjoy the advertised river cruise and not glorified coach trip. Perhaps a suggestion to remedy this complaint might be to make use of local day excursion boats instead of coaches, thus still having a river view of the surrounding countryside. Our friends had paid £800 more than us for a balcony and spent 3 days not being able to pull their curtains back as we were moored alongside another Viking ship until such time as the river allowed the inside ship to sail. and their cabin looked directly into the other ship, which reading other reviews appears to be a common complaint. All in all we did enjoy the trip - staff and ship first class, but feel that the above issues do need to be resolved before we will be taking a cruise with Viking again, or in fact any river cruise line if this is common practice. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
I cannot fault the service and presentation of Scenic Crystal. The staff were excellent and our tour director Szilvia was outstanding. Everything was 5 star except the food. Most vegetables were frozen or commercially prepared and I found ... Read More
I cannot fault the service and presentation of Scenic Crystal. The staff were excellent and our tour director Szilvia was outstanding. Everything was 5 star except the food. Most vegetables were frozen or commercially prepared and I found all the European fish awful, and they managed to overcook it. They did a seafood night and it was a joke. Imagine trying to give Aussies seafood when it is not sourced locally and is mostly frozen. Breakfast was the best meal of the day. The cabins and public areas were always clean and well maintained. Staff very obliging. Unfortunately there was an issue with a broken lock near Budapest so on day 12 we had to pack and transfer to another boat......the Sapphire. This was not only very inconvenient and disruptive but the rooms/bathrooms were smaller and the best staff had obviously been allocated to the Crystal. I understand this was out of Scenic,s control however river cruising always has the risk of high water (which stops all cruising) or lock issues. All the excursions were well managed however the trip to Bratislava was a total waste of time. After a 3 hour round bus trip the town offered nothing but cracked and crumbling buildings, weeds growing in the tram lines and cobblestones falling apart. If you took all the available tours I found it very tiring and quite a few passengers elected to stay on board. Personal choice but you are paying for this as ypou are for the drinks (which I do not). All I all, a great company who delivers everything they promise. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
I wanted to give you an update of our experiences on the Arosa Bella cruise on the Danube. Let me start out that there were 5 of us traveling in 3 cabins. We are all in our late 40's-early 50's. We got a text the night before the ... Read More
I wanted to give you an update of our experiences on the Arosa Bella cruise on the Danube. Let me start out that there were 5 of us traveling in 3 cabins. We are all in our late 40's-early 50's. We got a text the night before the cruise was to start while we were in Munich that the locks were down in Slovakia and the boat could not get to Passau so we would be bussed to the boat in Hungary. This ended up to be a 6 hour bus ride to Komaron, Hungary. We were not happy at all with the way they handled the lock closure. When we got to Passau as we were instructed, the Hotel Director, Michael was unwilling to speak with us to explain what was going on because we spoke English. To quote him "I will only speak to the German guests now, you can wait." Now keep in mind we are in a strange country where we don't speak the language. Dozens of people are milling around trying to find out what was going on and many were mad that they had not been contacted. We were not mad, but did want to understand what they were saying. We were lucky in that about 20 minutes after standing there, a person that was going on the cruise that spoke English finally translated for us. He told us to tag our bags and put them on the bus and just to get on the bus. The Hotel Director kept telling us to wait even after I called the cruise line contact that had called me about the change and she promised to call Michael to have him talk to us. I saw her call him and heard him answer and he then still chose to ignore us. If it wasn't for a very nice German man that had lived in Fort Lee, NJ for a time, we would have had no idea what to do or where to go until they decided to talk to us. On the cruise itself many times we felt a burden to the cruise line because we spoke English. Because of the change in itinerary they did give a lovely tour in Budapest in English that we were not expecting. What we didn't realize was if we didn't take the German tour we would not be allowed off the ship in Melk & Krems. We ended up taking the German tour because we wanted to get off the ship, but in Esztergom we almost had the same problem, but I forced the to call us a cab to take us to Basilica. That information would have been helpful before we went so we were prepared. I had originally had some tours planned but due to the change in itinerary we had to cancel them. We did have a great waiter every night who spoke English and got us an English menu every night. The ship itself was lovely. The passengers were friendly even though many did not speak English. Food was generally good with only a few times that there was little to eat for my husband since the gluten allergy. They had a hard time understanding the gluten allergy depending on which chef was there as some did not speak any English and could not tell my husband what foods were safe and what weren't. The itinerary was great and we loved that we were overnight in Vienna and Budapest. Wifi didn't really work well so I wouldn't tout it much. We had a full drink package so all our drinks were included. This was great and not something I was used to on a cruise. We had lots of great local wines and schnapps. The cabin was comfortable and clean and very well kept. We loved being up on deck as we went through the locks on the return trip. The cruise line did give us an OBC for our troubles of the 6 hour bus ride to Komaron and a discount on the spa. We both had massages which were nice while on the river. I only wish we had some English tours to use the money on. We ended up with beach towels, but I would have preferred to see more of the cities. I did take 1,529 pictures and it was an awesome trip. We have decided we would do another river cruise in the future, but will be trying a different cruise line in the future. We got to see a lot of them, as in many of the cities, when the boats docked, you walked through one to get to yours so you got to at least see their lobby. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
We did the Grand European Tour aboard the Viking Idi. Overall, the cruise was great. The crew was fantastic, food was wonderful, and the excursions were fine. The only 2 negatives were the program director who did not communicate as well ... Read More
We did the Grand European Tour aboard the Viking Idi. Overall, the cruise was great. The crew was fantastic, food was wonderful, and the excursions were fine. The only 2 negatives were the program director who did not communicate as well as she should have, and the odor on the last 3 days. The PD left us hanging on several occasions with no information as to what we should be doing. She was late to a meeting point with our tickets to a concert, so we were late getting in, and were seated in the back of a huge cathedral. Another day, she did not tell us the boat was delayed in locks while we were on an excursion. The buses took us on a side trip to some unknown building to kill a half hour. We drove into a parking lot, made a circle, and left. No idea what we saw, what it was, or why it was important. We just killed a half hour to make a schedule. The second negative was more important. Three days before the end of the cruise, a very bad odor(stench) enveloped most of the boat. While it was not in our cabin, it was very bad in the lower deck cabins. Even on the sun deck, it was bad. The crew gave us numerous excuses, but never a good explanation. The problem was still there when we we disembarked. Friends took a cruise 2 weeks after we did, and ran into passengers from a longship who said they were experiencing the same problem. Viking continues to say there was no odor, but for those of us on the Idi, it left an indelible impression. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
Warning! This is lengthy, but in-depth. My husband and I vacationed with another couple (all in our 50s). Our flight arrived in Basel, Switzerland after a very difficult day trying to coordinate flights on British Airways. Out original ... Read More
Warning! This is lengthy, but in-depth. My husband and I vacationed with another couple (all in our 50s). Our flight arrived in Basel, Switzerland after a very difficult day trying to coordinate flights on British Airways. Out original flight was supposed to take off in the morning but ended up leaving at 6:00 P.M. We travelled from the mid-atlantic region of the U.S. to Basel, by way of London. Lots of red tape and over six hours of waiting in London, but we made it! After most of the guests had boarded the ship, our flight landed and we were shuttled out of the airport - whereabouts unknown. It was after we were settled on the motor coach that we found out the following: Due to much rain in previous days, our ship could not dock in Basel, so we took the bus to Breisach, Germany. Okay, Basel. It was nice seeing you for five minutes. Sunday We arrived just in time for dinner. The friendly food crew takes your order using iPhones. The menu is heavy with meat dishes, so as a healthy eater I found it to be a bit of a challenge. However, the food I could eat was tasty and reflected the region. The others on board (who eat meat and poultry) enjoyed every bite. Food and drink is plentiful. Your wine glass was never empty! We were exhausted, but after dinner listened to a brief welcome from crew. Afterwards, we went right to bed. The cabin was more spacious than I expected. The comforters are interesting and different. There are two on each side of the king bed. The windows opened only a little from the side, rather than in the center, and were not floor to ceiling, but rather in the center of the wall. You had to move the chair and curtain away each time you opened the window. This wasn’t a problem, but was not what I expected. It wasn't a bad thing and we were used to it in no time. The bathroom was also roomier than I thought it would be, and had very nice amenities. The crew freshened up the room practically every time we left the cabin. Great service! Monday After a nice night in our comfy bed, we looked out the window to find lots of swans in the river. Very pretty. After a buffet breakfast, we left at precisely 8:30 for our first tour. Before every tour, on your way out, there is a basket filled with giant, sturdy red Viking umbrellas - enough for every passenger. This is a great idea! They also provided you with an individual bottle of water to take along. Each and every tour, lecture, meeting, and meal was exactly on time. It was about an hour ride from Breisach to the base of the Black Forrest. We hiked up the forrest and had some views of a waterfall. It was raining, and the trail was a little slippery, but nice. The town was a little bit of a tourist trap with a few shops selling cuckoo clocks and local items. There was both a glass-blowing and Black Forest cake-making demonstration. We went back to the Helvetia for a delicious lunch (which always featured a few light menu items as well as a salad-making buffet and nice cheese selection). Lunch and dinner always included a never-ending glass of wine or beer. Afterwards, we had a brief muster-station demonstration. Then, we went on a 50-minute-long bus ride to Colmar in the Alsace Region. WOW!!! Think: The Brothers' Grimm meets Disney World. This is one of the most picturesque places I could've imagined. Every turn, down every cobblestone street, brought a unique and beautiful view. The homes and shops looked like they jumped right out of an ancient fairy tale. Words cannot describe the colors, textures, and variety of design in this architectural mecca. We drove through the village in a modern choo-choo train with a local guide. He explained the history of the city and pointed out various sections (such as Little Venice). We then had an hour to walk around and explore the city on our own. After 30 minutes the sky opened up and we went to our meeting place, damp with rain. Then, it was back to the ship for dinner. We set sail (for the first time) at 10:45 P.M. to our next destination. The send-off was noisy, and a lot of people woke up during the night when we passed through several locks. Tuesday I did not sleep at all. The noise of the ship was disturbing. I finally got out of bed at 4:30 A.M. and went to get some coffee in the lounge. We were already docked. The weather was chilly, and it was raining heavily. A lot of people were awake due to the noise and jet lag. Our trip to Strousburg, France began early. We took a motor coach to the city center and drove for a while. We passed by many stork's nests, the Jewish section, and government buildings, churches, etc. We also toured Notre-Dame Cathedral. It had a fascinating astronomical clock inside. Afterwards, we decided to walk around the city for a few hours while shopping, drinking wine, & eating an onion tart at one cafe - and ordering champagne and the most amazing cheese plate at another. The cheeses were displayed in a huge dome which was in the Guinness Book of World Records. What a remarkable city! We returned to the ship and had dinner. Afterwards, we played a trivia game in the lounge It was fun! I sleep quite well that night! Wednesday We woke up refreshed & ready to take on Heidelberg! Early in the morning, we took a tour of the city's Louis XIV castle on the Nektar River, and were given a talk about Germany's education system, religions, and politics. Interesting, but just a short 45 minutes in town before our next cast-off to the town of Rudesheim. We went up to the sun deck where it was cold and windy. There was a wheel room tour given by the captain, which was short. We emerged and the sky lit up with bright sunlight - and stopped being windy. Now we were fully relaxed. As the beauty of the cruise finally began, we went past several German cities situated on the Rhine featuring rolling vineyards, monasteries, mansions, and castles. Sooooo Spectacular! This was the Viking Cruise I saw in the ads. We returned to the cabin for a quick nap and ate an early dinner. Then, we walked the "plank" to the small village of Rudesheim. Surprisingly, most of the shops were closed. With nothing else to do, we went to a Biergarten. It was a quaint, vine-covered, open-aired pub featuring a live German band. And, it was crowded. Another fun night! Thursday The early part of the day was spent simply sailing along the middle Rhine at its most scenic. Along the way were sheep, cows, and horses grazing near the rivers's edge - some even wading in the water! Beautiful architecture could be seen for miles and miles. We saw high cliffs with spectacular castles jutting out next to fortresses built for nobility. After a while, we docked near the William I memorial in Koblenz. Above the river was a funicular taking passengers to the town fortress by cable car. We watched the crew expertly tie up the ship and walked right off into the town. The shore excursion took us to Marksburg, a 700-year-old fortress, which lies above a steep hill. It was supposed to be a strenuous walk to get there from the bus and even inside the castle, but was not that bad. You can do as much or as little as you'd like each day. A lot of people chose not to do this tour. The castle was a medieval example of life in the 14th century. Dinner on the ship was a buffet selection of Germany’s finest cuisine. It was not the finest of food for a vegetarian like me, and featured no sit-down service. Friday We docked in the middle of town along a lovely area in Cologne. During the morning walking tour, we learned of all the destruction that took place during World War II. Not much is still standing. We walked past the ancient synagogue and into the town square. The town castle (The Dom) was beautiful. Afterwards, we walked around the city and ate lunch at a bustling outdoor cafe. The Kolner Zoo was next! I heard that this zoo is wonderful (it was!) so off we went. A bumpy, hot choo-choo train ride took us to the Kolner Zoo, located next to the botanical gardens and aquarium. We only had about two hours, and went to see this remarkable zoo featuring an enormous and spectacular elephant park and hippo dome. Exhausted and hot, we got back on the train and were able to see the city in-depth. Modern by necessity, it is a pretty city. Saturday Our last day on the cruise was spent in Kinderdjik, The Netherlands. At first, I wasn't sure I was even interested in getting off the ship for an afternoon tour, as there was literally nothing in this village but a bunch of windmills. I was quite wrong! Our guide led us over the canal to the below-sea-level area where the windmills were, lined up side-by-side. We were taught the inner workings and the daily lives of the "millers” as well as the water management system. We even had a chance to step in the (huge) wooden shoes on our way out of the village. Very, very informative. Not at all a tourist trap, as we first thought. Suddenly, it was late afternoon and time for our final dinner aboard the Viking. Sunday We woke up in perfect, sunny Amsterdam. Our trip was extended by two days, as is an option. The hotel of choice (Movenpick) was too far from everything, but was otherwise a gorgeous property. We said our goodbyes, disembarked early, and were taken to our hotel. It was an easy process. After a few minutes spent checking in, our walking tour of the city began from the hotel lobby. Unfortunately, our tour guide was not the most informative. She was the only Viking guide who disappointed us. We had no direction from her and the city is not easy to understand. We ended up leaving the tour early, as we had to make it to the Anne Frank House for a timed tour. It was an exceptional and unforgettable experience. Afterwards, we strolled through Dam Square and the red light district, sampled liquors at Wynand Fockink, and stumbled over canal bridges while dodging bicycles, cars, and motorcycles at every turn. There is no one on their cell phone in Amsterdam. You cannot look down for even one instant for fear you will be killed! We ended up walking for about 12 straight hours while making our way back to our hotel and into a bed which wasn’t floating. Monday Our goal was to find transportation, and we found it at Centraal Station. After much confusion the day before, we finally figured out the tram system enough to get us to our destinations. The morning was spent eating breakfast at Movenpick's elaborate buffet. What the hotel lacks in location it makes up for in breakfast! We then went on an hour-long canal ride. It was fun! Afterwards, we made our way to the museum area and finally got to the Rijksmuseum! It was thoroughly enjoyable. Hungry after so much activity, we went to Sama Sebo for an authentic rijstafel (rice table) at an Indonesian restaurant. Yummy. With no grass growing under our feet, we headed for "the 9 streets” district for some shopping. We went back to the hotel to recharge before dining at a trendy restaurant for our last dinner on vacation. It was a delicious meal Back into bed for our last night in Europe. I wish it could’ve started all over again...   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
Having traveled with Viking before, our expectations were high. Unfortunately, we were disappointed. Part of the problem was that we did not do enough homework ahead of time. We chose the worst time of year ( due to work schedules) and did ... Read More
Having traveled with Viking before, our expectations were high. Unfortunately, we were disappointed. Part of the problem was that we did not do enough homework ahead of time. We chose the worst time of year ( due to work schedules) and did not realize how much of the cruise would be spent on a bus. Viking hides the fact that for many of the excursions you will have to ride a crowded, uncomfortable bus. There was no scenic views along the highways. We also spent much of the time waiting for the very slow walkers to catch up to the group. Viking does offer a "leisure" group for those passengers but most insisted on signing up for the regular groups ensuring that all of us would forgo the opportunity for free time. Toward the end of the trip, we gave up and just went on our own. This meant we missed out on a few attractions that we could only get into as part of the group tour. Another problem was the weather. We had several days of rain. The boat could not make it under some bridges, therefore we boarded in Lyon and sat docked in the industrial part of tow by an "American style mall" for 3 days. We were told this is a frequent problem. There was no suitable plan B. We were loaded on to busses every day and rode for hours to the town's we were scheduled to visit. There were some good things_ staff was friendly and pleasant, food was good, rooms were small but nice. Our previous trip with Viking was much better. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
SHIP Built in 2011, length 443 ft., With 37.5 ft., Guest 154 and staff of 57. Suites range from 391 sf down to 163 sf. Some staterooms have open balconies with glass walls that can be raised up or down to for better comfort. If you stayed ... Read More
SHIP Built in 2011, length 443 ft., With 37.5 ft., Guest 154 and staff of 57. Suites range from 391 sf down to 163 sf. Some staterooms have open balconies with glass walls that can be raised up or down to for better comfort. If you stayed in any fine French hotels, you will feel right at home. The décor jumps out at you when you get onboard but after a short time you start appreciating how it all works together. Ship is kept very clean with windows looking spotless at all times. NOTE- Getting on and off the ship could require many steps to climb to the top deck, across a plank and down through another ship getting to shore. Not recommended for wheelchair bound guests. EMBARK & SHIP GREETING A little relaxed, all you do is scan your passports and have your picture taken. When your rooms are ready you will get your key-card. ROOMS Rooms are finely detailed with just about every possible combination of electrical sockets. Larger suits have espresso machines, i-pod chargers, refrigerators stocked with wines-soft drinks-beers and small bottles of alcohol. All the usual bath amenities: robes, shampoo, conditioner, cotton balls, hand dryers. Heating works well but AC takes a long time to catch-up on hot days. Caution - Your view could be blocked by other ships or concrete walls when docking. MONEY Swiss francs and Euros are used in the countries visited. Ship will change American dollars to euros. SHORE EXCURSIONS PRE-CRUISE - Luzern is a worth seeing and Uniworld takes great care of you also walking with you all day for excursions. Some excursions cost extra that take you up to mount Pilatus. Lodging”Widmein Mann is an old hotel that is seven houses they combined. Rooms are mostly not the same with very irregular shapes and sizes. Many steps are every ware even going down the hallways. Internet will cost you extra and be prepared for no air conditioning if traveling in summer time. A plus, the restaurant serves food way above the level of the hotel. CRUISE EXCURSIONS Most shore excursion will be included. When your pre-information package arrives; it will describe each tour and let you know what ones are an additional charge. We found out tours fill quickly and one needs to decide on the first day to select them at the front counter. Also some walking tours could be up to 50 people. A Quite ox receiver with an ear peace will be provided to keep you connected to you tour guide. POST-CRUISE Uniworld will put you up at the Amsterdam Crown Plaza Hotel a modern, up-to-date hotel. A guide will walk you around town and provide additional excursions if you like. They also have a desk downstairs and will answer questions if you want to wander around by yourself. Trips to the airport are also included if you purchase the extended stay options. ALCOHOL All drinks are included throughout the day and night. Of course special wines and after diner drinks can be purchased at additional costs. In larger suites three bottles of distilled sprites will be provided. BUTLER SERVICE Nine rooms will receive this service for about 12 hours a day. They are eager to please and really trying hard to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Special request are their specialty. HOUSE KEEPING Room will be cleaned twice a day if needed. WIFI A user code will be provided for you to sign in to have access to the internet. You can connect with your e-mail accounts and browse the internet. But be prepared to be locked out of all address that requires sizeable bandwidth. WIFI did not work in our room without the door open, even with our room right next to the main lobby. WIFI works on top deck and in public areas. We could only send emails after logging into a cloud bases email account. We asked IT and they opened up some IP address we needed but still had many problems. IN ROOM ENTERTAINMENT Flat screens in the rooms with a selection of; Movies on demand, daily activates Some international channels, CNN and BBC news. They do have lots of movies and newly released items to choose from. Although can be glitchy while sailing. LAUNDRY Three washers and three dryers are located for guests on floor two. Detergent and one iron are also provided. Laundry will be provided at no cost if you are staying in a suite. If you are having them do your laundry; check it when delivered, it may need to be re-pressed or ironed. CASINO/ SALON/ WORKOUT/ LIBRARY & SHIP STORE CASINO (none) SALON – Very nice facility with no advance reservations needed. WORKOUT ROOM –yes with trainer STORE – Yes a small one with some jewelry. LIBRARY- could not find one. POOL yes on level four at the back of the ship. Done very nice and you will like hanging out there. ENTERTAINMENT Person playing the piano at night with accompanied singer. Some night’s special entertainment will come onboard and provide special performances. Also a 24 seat theater showing 3 DVD movies a day. DINNING Only have a few selections each night. One vegetarian, one beef and one fish. Same with appetizers and starters; only one or two too choose from. No 24 hour room service exists but if staying in the suites, butlers will serve breakfast and diners in your suite. A fine dining experience in provided on the top deck one night (need to make reservations) and is also offered one additional night if staying in the suites. If you like seating with other travelers you in luck, most seating is four or more and you will be joined by others. Also seating times have a short time period so dining room will be crowed. Although all meals are supposed to be casual dress, on Captain’s welcome and farewell it seems a lot of guests dress Informal. FOOD No room on the ship for massive freezers, almost at each stop you will see proteins and produce being brought onboard. With so much fresh food it’s hard for them to go wrong. Everybody seemed happy with their meals but maybe some complaining of the same beef four days in a row. If anyone has a food allergy they will go out of their way to eliminate any cross contaminations and prepare something special. CREW Eastern Europeans make up most or all of the crew and are easy to get along with. Lots of crew training takes place and it shows. All you have to do is mention something out of the ordinary you need and they are off the ship getting it for you. TIPPING Tipping was included in all the meal bills and guides other than Amsterdam. If you were lucky enough to get a butler you may find you will want to tip them (they just do that good of a job) DISEMBARK & PARTING THOUGHTS You’re given the usual colored luggage tags but bags are placed outside your room the morning you’re departing. We found out a solid week of training is done for staff prior to them opening the season. They train for how to answer question so no one looks foolish or confused and it shows. When things go wrong you will not get some lame excuse. What you get is a commitment to fixing it prior to you getting off the ship. When we overheard a guest dissatisfied with the beer selection; someone went off the ship at each port to find something they liked. We heard guests praising them over and over on how far they will go to make you happy. After being on the Rhine and passing 20 to 40 other river ships you will be happy you are with Uniworld. Most of them look beat and worn out. You will also have the opportunity to walk through some other ships on the trip while docking, to see if you like something better. River cruising is much different than Ocean cruising and it’s like comparing apples and oranges and I will not make any comparisons. You will have to experience it on your own to know for sure. Only comparison I could make is if you’re staying in one of the suites you will feel like you’re on one of Seabourn’s small ships. .   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2014
Cruising on the SS Catherine was a real pleasure. Treats were laid on with food, wine, welcoming staff and much more. The included tours/ activities were all great fun. Loved each of our tour guides and their wonderful stories. They ... Read More
Cruising on the SS Catherine was a real pleasure. Treats were laid on with food, wine, welcoming staff and much more. The included tours/ activities were all great fun. Loved each of our tour guides and their wonderful stories. They really helped you get to know each town's unique character. We had unusually hot weather for June. Sadly the air on at the back og the dining area had difficulties. Solved with some temporary air cons half way thru trip. The rooms however are very well air conditioned and well furnished. But found their "French balcony" Room description a bit misleading .... As there is no balcony at all. Overall it was a beautiful ship and we had an immensely enjoyable time. Can't wait to book another river cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2014
If you are contemplating booking this cruise, I would recommend starting in Beijing and doing all the strenuous part of the tour first. Firstly the tour does involve lots of walking and steps, so it is not recommended for people with ... Read More
If you are contemplating booking this cruise, I would recommend starting in Beijing and doing all the strenuous part of the tour first. Firstly the tour does involve lots of walking and steps, so it is not recommended for people with mobility issues. Our tour guide David was excellent, and kept us fully informed of timings and meeting places, and he kept us amused with tales of his childhood experiences and day to day life in China which was extremely interesting, It was also great not to have to worry about lifting heavy suitcases everywhere, as Viking took great care of coordinating and checking in our luggage, so all we had to do was identify it after each internal flight, and it was promptly delivered to our respective hotels. The land tours were well coordinated, taking in Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and Great Wall. For me, the highlight of the trip was flying to Xian to see the Terracotta Warriors. All the hotels we stayed in were equivalent to 4/5 star and of a very high standard. The Kerry Hotel in Beijing had a complimentary mini bar which was stocked daily with beers and soft drinks, and the bathroom was very opulent. The food in all the hotels was buffet style and very good quality and choice. The cabins on the Viking Emerald are spacious, and with a balcony, but unfortunately the river was shrouded in mist/fog and smog which is apparently normal, and the guide in Chonquing told us that they only have about 5 days of sun each , so needless to say, most of the time it was like looking through lace curtains, which was quite disappointing. The trip wasn't very relaxing, as Viking do not plan too much down time, and personally I think they include too many trips to museums. I Think it would be preferential to offer alternatives, if you do not want to go to another museum. The latest time we woke up was 0700, which is very early day in day out, but I guess that we had to avoid the constant queues of traffic, and also to avoid the queues at the other places we were visiting. I did feel at times that we were being 'herded', but with 34 people in the group, this is the only option. The food on the boat was excellent with lots of choices, and wine is included at lunch and dinner, but although the staff are extremely pleasant, they need a few lessons in customer service. I found that we had to keep asking for basic things like condiments, which should automatically be placed on each dining table, and they weren't always proactive in topping up wine glasses. We constantly had to ask for more wine. There was an excellent wine waitress called Lois, who was incredible with attending to us, and she even remembered everyone's name, even though we constantly changed tables. It was always reassuring when Lois was waiting on our table at meal times. She was also extremely polite and personable. I also need to mention that when not eating in hotels, Viking had arranged meals in different restaurants which were obviously geared up for tourists, as there were always numerous coaches parked outside, and all tables were filled with groups of 8. All of these meals were served by using lazy susans, and the food was just 'plonked' on the table. We were only entitled to 1 drink which seemed a bit mean, so if you dared ask for a glass of water with your beer, it was promptly refused! In all the restaurants, the staff are constantly trying to remove your plate, even though you could still be eating! It all seemed very rushed, and that part was not very pleasurable. Most times we were in and out within 1 hour. All in all it was a very enjoyable holiday with some amazing sights, but would I do it again-probably no. It ticked all the boxes of places to see, and I can't fault Viking for that.   Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
We have been on one previous Tauck Tour (Machu Picchu & Galapagos) and loved it. That was with a very small and physically active group. We decided to book a 12 day river cruise on the Rhine (Amsterdam to Basel) together with another ... Read More
We have been on one previous Tauck Tour (Machu Picchu & Galapagos) and loved it. That was with a very small and physically active group. We decided to book a 12 day river cruise on the Rhine (Amsterdam to Basel) together with another couple with whom we often travel. Overall, the trip was good but different from what we expected. First the many positives - The ship (MS Inspire) is brand new and very nicely appointed. The hot showers work great. Bed very comfy. The engines are very quiet and the ride is so smooth it was usually difficult to feel the ship was moving. Definitely no sea-sickness issues. As expected the Tauck staff was fantastic! All the guides (Bettina, Cindy and Mark) were very friendly, well informed and always helpful. Bettina is German and her narratives and background stories were very interesting and insightful. The wait staff and rest of the crew (Scylla not Tauck) were also always helpful and very pleasant. The other passengers (total 120) were mostly from the USA, very interesting and fun to get to know. The dominant age range was 65-75. Amsterdam is a great city to visit. Tauck choose the Grand Hotel Sofitel for our pre cruise night and it was very nice. Day 1 Board MS Inspire about 3:30 Day 2 Canal tour of Amsterdam (on small canal boat) was very nice. Visit the Rijksmuseum - excellent. Day 3 Nijmegen, Holland - 1 hr bus trip to De Hoge Veluwe National Park and Kroller-Muller Museum. Second largest Van Gogh collection in world. Beautiful grounds with many sculptures. Reboard in Dusseldorf - not much to see. Day 4 Bonn walking tour of Bonn not so good. Lunch at Grand Hotel Steigenberger was very good with excellent views of Rhine/City. Day 5 Cochem on the Mosel River is a beautiful little town. Visit Reichsburg Castle - excellent. Bus to Schlagkamp Winery in Senheimis for wine-tasting with cheese and cold cuts - Fun - but winemaker's talk was a bit too long! The views on both sides of the Mosel are beautiful with many vineyards. Day 6 Bernkastel a small very pretty town. Then a long bus ride to Luxembourg City. Most of the old walls/ruins have been destroyed/removed so it is a nice modern city. But we did not think there was all that much to see. Shopping good. Then went to the American Memorial Cemetery in Hamm, Luxembourg which is very moving & powerful. George Patton is buried here and most of the dead are from the Battle of Bulge. Day 7 Still in Bernkastel. Took bus to Trier, the oldest city in Germany. This was the best little city we visited so far! Has an enormous Roman Gate - Porta Nigra - and a great market square and cathedral. Day 8 Boppard is a very pretty little town with large Roman ruins. Fun to ride bikes through the town. Many half-timbered houses. Take the lift (Sisselbahn) to top of hill for good views of the "big bend" of Rhine. Boat then sailed to Oberwesel via the Middle Rhine Valley with many impressive castles and past Lorelei's narrows. Great views! Took bus to Castle Reichenstein which although dating to 11th century was all rebuilt about 100 years ago and is now much too commercial. Beautiful views from roof but the "medieval dinner" with lute music, etc. very "corny", very loud and too long. Day 9 Worms. Took bus to Heidelberg (about 1 hr). Heidelberg Castle was very impressive. Then lunch at Hotel Zum Ritter was very good. Brief walk in old town then bus to meet ship in Mannheim. Day 10 Plittersdorf. Bus to Baden-Baden (30 min) which is a lovely Spa town that dates from Roman times. Beautiful Casino and many upscale shops/baths/apothecaries but not too many historical sites. Day 11 Dock in Kehl, Germany across Rhine from France. 30 min bus to Strasbourg. Bus tour of more modern city which was excellent. Drove past Parc de l'Orangerie with many tree top storks. Then walking tour of old city was excellent. Notre Dame is amazing with its wonderful stained glass, and amazing astronomical clock and overall construction. Wonderful lunch at La Corde a Linge along the Ill in Petite, France. If you get back to the ship and the weather is nice grab a bike and ride toward the right. After the pavement ends a very nice gravel nature path goes for several miles with interesting fish, birds, etc. Day 12 Basel. Arrived on Sunday and most shops closed. The old town, Cathedral and town hall were interesting but really only takes about 1.5-2 hrs. Several good museums. But if you have an option take the bus ride to Lucerne. The ship passes through many(30+) locks which are quite interesting. Our personal favorite stops in order of preference: Strasbourg Amsterdam Trier Mosel River Vistas Middle Rhine River/Lorelei Vistas Heidelberg old town and Castle Cochem/Reichsburg Castle Baden-Baden Boppard De Hoge Veluwe National Park and Kroller-Muller Museum Bernkastel American Memorial Cemetery Hamm, Luxembourg Luxembourg City Basel Bonn Dusseldorf Negatives - The ship was very new - great - except the staff was also new with many trainees still in the learning phase. We expected great meals and they all did look beautiful - presentation was excellent - however, the taste was generally mediocre. Most people we spoke with were also disappointed with the quality of the food. Some meals had to be returned, which I have only done once before in my life. The soups were very good. The desserts were fair at best we mostly stuck to ice cream. But the food quality definitely improved as the trip progressed and perhaps the staff is rapidly getting better. The optional dinners in Arthur's were usually much better - eat there at least a few times. The staff was very attentive to everyone's special food needs. Internet access is free but very spotty and very slow. Our biggest disappointment was the relatively long bus rides to visit most of the interesting cities/towns. We mistakenly assumed that the ship would dock within beautiful cities along the Rhine and Mosel but this was not the case. Most days we took 45 min - 1 hour bus rides to the places we visited. Our tour also skipped Cologne and its cathedral which we would have loved to see. Not sure why since we stopped at several ports with little interest. Would rather have spent more time at the better stops. Also the first 3 days traveling in this direction are through industrial Rhine and not picturesque. Glad we went in the direction from Amsterdam to Basel or our trip would have gone from good to great to poor vis a vis the scenery and ended on a down note (although Amsterdam itself was excellent). Overall a good but not great trip. I think that with tweaking by Tauck and Scylla, it can become a much better trip. PS I wrote this review before “seeing the posting by “tonir1025” and it is amazing how similar our reviews are. And we both have gluten dietary issues!   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
This was my first riverboat cruise vs. many ocean cruises. The cost is certainly more substantial than a ocean cruiser and I don't feel its worth it. True the tours are included with some optional tours at a cost as well as beer and ... Read More
This was my first riverboat cruise vs. many ocean cruises. The cost is certainly more substantial than a ocean cruiser and I don't feel its worth it. True the tours are included with some optional tours at a cost as well as beer and wine at meals only. And the wine and beer served is marginal at best. The ship is 10+ years old but the crew keeps it clean and shiny. The cabin was pretty roomy and the public rooms were nice as well. The crew on this vessel were second to none. From the Program Director- Annika to the Hotel Mgr.-Bea to the Maitre D- Brigetta. They were always visible and wanting to please. We didn't realize how good they were until we boarded the Viking Hermod for the second leg of the trip. It was like night and day. Read my not too good review of the Hermod. The trip was sold as a 14 day trip on the Spirit and Hermod. One issue was the Viking menu repeats every 7 days. So the dinners were the same on both trips-that was a disappointment. The other issue was the lack of entertainment in the evening. One night an opera troupe from Paris performed and the other was a music trivia night. Both were great but the other 5 nights there was no entertainment or programs after dinner. It was as though Viking wanted you to go to sleep after dinner or have an evening cocktail at your own cost. The WiFi worked very well in the cabin and public rooms. The tv in the cabin was a small flat screen and had a sports channel so we could watch both Wimbeldon and the World Cup. Unfortunately there weren't any tvs in the public rooms to watch with your fellow guests. I can't say enough about the crew-Viking should recognize the crew on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
We had a 3 day "bus cruise" to start as the ship could not get to Budapest due to water levels. The cruise director and concierge were very good though at organising and keeping everyone abreast of the changes. Unfortunately, ... Read More
We had a 3 day "bus cruise" to start as the ship could not get to Budapest due to water levels. The cruise director and concierge were very good though at organising and keeping everyone abreast of the changes. Unfortunately, once we did board, the top deck was only open for 1 evening before being closed for most of the cruise due to bridge heights. We were not aware of this and may have chosen a different cruise if we were aware of the issues with water levels and bridge heights. Viking would not honour a $100 room credit we were supposed to receive, either for us or another couple travelling with us, even though they were given the paperwork showing we were to receive the credit. Overall the service and food were good. Apparently Australian/New Zealand/UK cruisers are offered an all inclusive package including gratuities which is not offered to US cruisers. Many of the other cruisers thought the recommended gratuity amounts were excessive. For instance, at the recommended gratuity level, the cruise director would be earning $15,000/month in gratuities alone! An advantage to the river cruises is no seasickness for those who have an issue with this and only 200 passengers per ship instead of thousands.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
We enjoyed good weather, a great crew, super Program Director, excellent food, nice accommodations, and minimal hiccups. Viking has obviously worked very hard to address issues posted in previous reviews, with one exception: they could ... Read More
We enjoyed good weather, a great crew, super Program Director, excellent food, nice accommodations, and minimal hiccups. Viking has obviously worked very hard to address issues posted in previous reviews, with one exception: they could still be more forthcoming regarding potential issues (i.e., need to change ships or busing). We booked the three-week European Sojourn cruise from Bucharest (Giurgiu), Romania to Amsterdam, Netherlands. We made separate arrangements for our three-day pre- and post-cruise experiences in Romania and The Netherlands. Although we determined all of our accommodations, our travel agent finalized all of our lodging and travel arrangements, which (in listening to some of our fellow passengers) saved us considerable frustration and expense. And, after learning about the frequency and levels of flooding along the Danube and Main Rivers in the past, we were glad to have had travel insurance (even though we didn't need it, this time). Our assigned Veranda Stateroom on the Upper (third) deck was quite comfortable. We had hoped to be upgraded to Veranda Suite, which would have given us a separate sitting room that would have been handy when our waking / reading schedules diverged; however, we learned that those rooms did not have as much drawer / storage spaces as ours did. We did have a bit of noise from the Sun deck when there were track walkers or passengers playing shuffle board; but, since the management asked everyone to limit those activities to mid-day, it was only a minor annoyance. Our room stewardess was extremely efficient and accommodating. We have often told friends that the "best thing about the cruise was the food" and that the "worst thing about the cruise was ALL of the food." We both had to learn some restraint in selecting from the buffets and ordering. The menus were nicely varied, only repeating a few items over the course of 21 days. Of any of the offerings, only the soups could use some improvement. The open seating plan led to our getting to know many of our fellow passengers. The evening "stampede" for desired tables and servers even became a bit comical. We took this cruise on the Danube, Main and Rhine Rivers because we had never been to this part of Eastern and Central Europe. We were fascinated by the history and relative economies of the various countries and regions. From our perspective, Viking has done a nice job of balancing organized tours, free time in the various ports of call, and daylight sailing through the picturesque countryside. That is not to say, however, that they don't need to continue to refine some of the excursions to get away from some of the corny, staged presentations like the Puszta horse show. A couple of observations regarding shipboard technology: (1) The free wi-fi was appreciated; however, Viking needs to enhance its bandwidth. When everyone was onboard and attempting to connect on-line (uploading photos, etc), their wi-fi slowed to a snail's crawl. (2) The various presentations in the lounge could be transmitted to all of the passenger rooms--however, only from the ceiling-mounted camera. Several of the presentations included photo or PowerPoint visuals that could be projected onto a screen in the lounge. The system needs to be programmed to allow for displaying these presentations on the stateroom TVs, as well. We definitely recommend a Viking river cruise to others. However, as with all travel planning, do your homework ... know what your are getting, and whether that meets your expectations. Having a few hiccups along the way is what makes travel an "adventure." Viking simply needs to keep in mind that it is charging a five-star fee ... and owes a five-star experience. All-in-all, we think they are doing a pretty good job at doing so.   Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
We booked a river cruise with Tauck based on reviews from friends and the new longship. Pluses: The MS Inspire is a beautiful ship. The lobby and common areas are beautiful and spotless. We booked a little late and the only room available ... Read More
We booked a river cruise with Tauck based on reviews from friends and the new longship. Pluses: The MS Inspire is a beautiful ship. The lobby and common areas are beautiful and spotless. We booked a little late and the only room available was a Cat. 3 on the bottom deck with the steps up to the large windows. We loved the room, but we heard very loud noises all night, as if toilets were being flushed right outside our door. Although this is a minus, I spoke to Steve, our tour director, and he immediately offered us another room on the middle deck. From them on we didn't hear anything and slept like babies. The Scylla crew was wonderful, very helpful and friendly. Steve was a terrific tour director. Carrie, Mark and Lacey were on top of their game, Minuses: This is not a cheap cruise, but we felt the food was maybe a B. We were expecting real gourmet fare, but it fell a little short. For example, we started out with local German wines, but by the last night we had Chilean and South African wines. We were not that far from France - really? The portions were on the small side which was fine for me but my husband could have gone for seconds, never offered. I will say that the soups were outstanding! And the staff was very accomodating to my gluten allergy, going out of their way to ensure I had GF bread and dessert. Now for the not so good news: except for the cathedral in Cologne, we should have skipped Dusseldorf and Cologne altogether. The cities are dirty and have no charm, the local guides were awful (Reiner) and we did not enjoy it at all. We had 2 off the boat excursions, and the meals were terrible at both places. Lunch took way too long and our pork was inedible, dinner at the castle was not much better. We joked that we were at Medeival Times with corney entertainment and bad tourist food. We made the most of it and actually had a good time with our new friends from the boat, but we should have toured the castle, had a drink and snack, and eaten on the boat - OR had a better caterer! Fortunately the stops improved after that - from Koblenz on the cities were charming. Strasbourg and Baden-Baden were wonderful, I wished we skipped the earlier stops and expanded those stops to a day each. The cruise during the middle Rhine was awesome, looking at all the castles. And Luzerne was the best of all - a great city, good shopping, and the trip up to Mt. Pilatus was the best day of the trip - up the mountain in cable cars, down on the cog wheel train - the most beautiful views. I think that people who take the cruise from Basel to Amsterdam will be very disappointed since the trip gets worse from south to north. Overall - given the premium price, I am not so sure we will book another river cruise with Tauck. Although we ldid love the benefits of river cruising - unpack once, see many cities, and enjoy the relaxing feeling of floating down a calm river. Read Less

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