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21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We were disappointed with our late April, 2018, Danube cruise and would not recommend Viking to others. First "problem": we paid more for a Veranda room with an outside deck and found that Viking has SO MANY boats traveling the ... Read More
We were disappointed with our late April, 2018, Danube cruise and would not recommend Viking to others. First "problem": we paid more for a Veranda room with an outside deck and found that Viking has SO MANY boats traveling the Danube, at the same time, that it STACKS its boats when it docks, side by side, leaving us with "a view" of ANOTHER Viking boat's outside deck one foot away from OUR outside deck, at EVERY docking. Secondly, our boat "cruised" in daylight hours, where one can see the sights, only ONE DAY, along the Wachau Valley. It was "in port", docked, during other daylight times. Thirdly, all of Viking's "docking locations" are a LONG walk, along a narrow passageway, to GET TO a street and access where one can catch a cab or other transportation in order to "independently see/tour a town" on one's own time, for which Viking provide sufficient time. Finally, our "Tour Director", and a few other staff members, noticeably and continuously outwardly displayed a "very overpowering/aggressive/obtrusive so-called friendliness" in their attitudes, talks, and personalities. Informally, I think of that as their "coming on" WAY too strong, to the point of making the trip "uncomfortable". Also, Viking's excursion leaders were, generally, not very good. These negatives far outweighed the ship's cleanliness and good food/meals provided, and made it a trip I wish I had NOT paid for, and made. I would NOT make the mistake of making a Viking river boat trip in the future. We have travelled with two OTHER river boat companies in other areas of the world, and BOTH those trips were MUCH more enjoyable. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We sailed on 13th sept 2017 We chose this cruise from Bucharest to Budapest because of the itinerary and we were not disappointed. The various trips out and the insight into the history was excellent. We were supposed to be on Sky ... Read More
We sailed on 13th sept 2017 We chose this cruise from Bucharest to Budapest because of the itinerary and we were not disappointed. The various trips out and the insight into the history was excellent. We were supposed to be on Sky but it was changed to Sun, which was no problem as the ships are identical. The ship itself was spotless, every one of the crew was helpful and polite. The shiny surfaces, glass and mirrored surfaces did take a bit of getting used to, and could be a bit of a problem especially the stairs where we saw a few near accidents. The balcony suite was fine, always kept immaculately clean by Darko. Plenty of hanging storage as the safe has now been moved. The dining experience however was nothing like as advertised. The dining room itself is extremely noisy, and the only way to converse with fellow passengers is to shout, making it an uncomfortable experience. The food was to say the least disappointing and not at all as represented in the brochure. I have to say however, a fellow traveller who had recently been on Sky said the meals on there were excellent. Portions were extremely small, bland and unappetising. Several guests felt they had to order double to be satisfied. A starter of meatballs should not only consist of one meatball, neither should the cheese board consist of three tiny cubes of cheese with a similar thumbnail size of chutney and no crackers. We flew KLM Manchester via Schiphol threw Emerald. When we arrived in Bucharest our luggage along with quite a few other couples failed to arrive. We duly filled in the claim form, went out into arrivals to find all the transport had gone. Ourselves with one other couple after landing at 1.20pm had to wait until 5.20pm for transport, despite the Emerald rep telling us first of all it would only be 10mins. She then asked us to wait for the London flight promising us to be first on the transport. We were then totally ignored when the transport arrived but managed to tag on at the end. When we got to the hotel our cruise director Yana took details of our lost luggage, but after that showed no interest in it unless we asked her. We were not informed the night after when it arrived and the following morning it had disappeared again, thankfully found on another floor!! As a result of this we went from Wednesday morning till Saturday afternoon in the clothes we stood up in. Yana did say on the Friday, again after asking what we should do, that we had €100 each for necessities. This experience soured what should have been a very enjoyable holiday. Read Less
32 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
This was our 5th cruise, 3rd with Viking. This was the best boat we've been on, but Viking continues to be plagued with problems. Embarkation was very smooth, as was disembarkation when we finished. Dining: It was extremely ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise, 3rd with Viking. This was the best boat we've been on, but Viking continues to be plagued with problems. Embarkation was very smooth, as was disembarkation when we finished. Dining: It was extremely difficult to make restaurant reservations ahead of the cruise, with a limit of 1 reservation per restaurant. That didn't get any better when we boarded...one of the staff members took all our requests, said he'd leave us a message confirming them, and then did absolutely nothing about it. The main dining restaurant (The Restaurant) doesn't open for breakfast until 8am, much too late for early morning shore excursions. And you can't just go in and find a table — get in the line and let them seat you! I have no idea why on earth they need to know your cabin number for a meal...it's all included! It just slows the whole process down, and I would not recommend going there at all for breakfast. They aren't even open for lunch. Dinners there were decent. The one day we ordered room service, they showed up with stuff we didn't order, and were missing stuff we did order. Not good. Shore Excursions: In this area, Viking gets an EPIC FAIL. Viking's cruises are plagued with old, infirm, and obese people who simply cannot walk comfortably around a town or city. So every single excursion you take will have several people who are limping along telling the guide to slow down, etc. It drove us nuts. Even on the St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum excursion, which was rated by Viking as "Demanding", we had 8-10 people in our group who could barely climb stairs. This aspect ruined most of the shore excursions for us. Local Guides: they weren't as good as we've had in the past. 2 of them gave us incorrect info about the location of shuttle buses back to the ship, leading to some anxious moments. Tipping: As usual, you need to constantly be looking to ensure you've got 5 Euros or 10 Krone or whatever, to tip the bus drivers and guides. Viking advertises itself as "all inclusive" but it isn't. Those tips and the daily "tip" that they automatically add to your stateroom bill add up. Viking needs to adopt the Scenic Cruises model — get on board and put your wallet in your safe...no tipping needed, it's truly all inclusive. That includes the beer you have after returning from an excursion at 3pm — on Viking, it'll cost you $8 but on Scenic it's all included. One of our shore excursions (Flam Railway) returned too late so we missed our afternoon excursion, despite Viking's schedule showing them as do-able. And on that excursion, our guide neglected to tell us that we'd be getting lunch. So I bought a couple sandwiches and sweet rolls on the train — for about $40 CDN — only to subsequently discover that they were giving us lunch at the end of the train ride. Staff: All the staff, with the exception of the ship's security officer, were friendly and helpful. We got very rude and aggressive treatment from the ship's security officer when we tried to join a shorter line re-boarding the boat after Berlin. I explained that we were just trying to help speed things up, but we were ordered to get back into our original line (now at the very end of the line). So about 40-50 people had to wait an additional 10 minutes to clear security when the other shorter line cleared, but Mr. Gestapo refused to let anyone go to that line. After a very long day, that finished us...we'll find another cruise line in future. Staterooms: Wonderful. This was the best boat we've been on. The rooms were very quiet compared to any other ship we've been on — you couldn't even hear your neighbouring rooms flush a toilet, or their TV. Comfortable king-sized bed, and plenty of room in the shower. Other: the ship had lots of nice lounges and areas to go have a coffee, read a book, play cards, have a drink, etc. The spa didn't meet my wife's simple needs — a gel fill for her nails. They don't do gel nails, which is ridiculous, as nearly every nail salon in Canada or the USA does. So they proposed to remove her gel nails in one session ($$$) and then put nail polish on her natural nails (um...NO) in another session ($$$). Another EPIC FAIL. Entertainment: we don't go on cruises to see the entertainment. But feedback from our travelling companions led us to believe that the entertainment on Viking Star was very middle class. Port Talks & Info Sessions: a few of these were very educational and entertaining. But the Port Talks (about next day's port) were held at 6:45 PM, right in the middle of the dinner hour! Another questionable judgement by Viking. All in all, I doubt seriously we'll be back on a Viking cruise. These same problems come up again and again with them, and it's time to move on. Our experience with Scenic Cruises was that they have the same boats, service, etc as Viking, but you don't have to bother with all the tipping as it's pre-paid...well worth the extra few bucks. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We boarded the ship in Tulcea, Romania. The check-in process was very efficient and the crew were very welcoming. The cases were taken by the crew to the correct cabin, and were left outside for us to take in. We had booked a cabin on ... Read More
We boarded the ship in Tulcea, Romania. The check-in process was very efficient and the crew were very welcoming. The cases were taken by the crew to the correct cabin, and were left outside for us to take in. We had booked a cabin on the upper deck, which was marketed as a stateroom with a balcony. The balcony was not my definition of a balcony. You have a window which opens and which you can lean out of onto the metal safety barriers to stop you falling overboard. To my mind a balcony means something that you can walk onto. Try walking onto this and you would be in the river. The cabin was small and a little cramped. The furniture in the cabin was cheap to put it mildly. Chipboard with a thin, plastic wood-effect covering. Also, some of the units did not fit together correctly. The beds were very comfortable and there were plenty of pillows. There were no tea or coffee making facilities in the room. Given that the bar was not staffed all day (despite being advertised as such) tea and coffee making facilities should be available in the room, or the bar staffed as advertised. The cabin was clean upon arrival, as was the very cramped bathroom. However, the cleaning during the cruise left something to be desired. Small items left on the floor were undisturbed and finger marks on mirrors remained for the majority of the cruise. Also, towels were not properly replaced - twice we had to asked for shower towels having had dirty towels removed but not replaced. The bathroom was small and very cramped. The wash basin was small, and the shower was tiny. Our shower head was broken, as was the pipe to the shower head. Despite being reported twice, this remained unrepaired throughout our cruise. The dining experience was bizarre. The ship carries approximately 160 people. Everyone was called to meals at the same time, leaving some tables waiting for service for up to 45 minutes as the norm, although at one dinner we were left an hour before food service began. The food was generally very good and well presented and despite their being no choice at meals, the ship was very good with dealing with dietary needs, provided they were given a few hours' notice. In fact, in some instances even notice at the table was not a problem. The waiters and waitresses in the restaurant were like robots. There was little interaction with guests, and we were told by several members of staff that interaction with guests was a disciplinary offence. In my view, this does not give good customer service. We did come across one of the waitresses being disciplined for providing advice on the wine to choose with our meal. The lunch would be better served as a buffet and not a three course sit down meal, but that is a personal preference. The bar staff were good and generally friendly, although there seemed a reluctance to serve the free drinks (the cruise was all-inclusive, subject to certain premium drinks not being included). The choice of wines and other drinks as part of the all inclusive package was good. The excursions arranged by the cruise company were mixed. The excursion to Bucharest was badly planned. For a city with so much recent history and so much in the city to see, the excursion to a folk museum at the expense of not really seeing the city, seemed a waste. On the other hand the trip to Novi Sad and some villages close by was excellent. The most memorable, and not for the right reason, was an excursion in Hungary. The guide was absolutely dreadful, and two of the three places chosen for visiting were just as bad. In fact, after a few minutes at the Paprika Museum we crept out for a walk around the town. The travel to the venues consisted of a constant commentary from the guide as to the crops being grown in the fields. Comments such as "On the left you see cabbages, on the right you see corn. We grow both here in Hungary" being made for 90 minutes do not help the stress levels. The on board entertainment was reasonable and the quizzes were generally good fun. The musicians in the bar were very talented, particularly the violinist. The announcements on board are vital to ensure that you are in the right place at the right time, yet there were a number of places on board where the announcements could not be properly heard - the rear bar on the upper deck and the front of the sun deck being two examples. There were two matters that gave us real cause for concern. Firstly, there were staff members allowed to bring children on board. These were in the cabin next to ours and were noisy and disruptive. If staff are to be allowed to bring children on board they should be quiet and discrete. Fare paying guests have a right to enjoy peace and quiet. If more worrying was an incident that happened to us and, we later discovered to other guests on the boat. On one occasion, upon returning from a morning excursion, we noticed that a wallet was missing. I accept that it should have been put in the safe, but what followed suggested that even this may not have been satisfactory. After reporting the incident to a senior member of cabin crew we found the wallet returned the following day following a morning excursion. I had some medication in the safe, and I used this immediately before leaving the boat for the morning excursion. On returning to the cabin just before lunch we opened the safe to find the wallet leaning against the medication. Nothing had been taken. We later became aware of other guests having money being taken from their cabin. However, upon complaining to senior cabin crew the money was returned in tact. Clearly, in our view, the cabin crew have access to the cabin safes, and use that access when they should not. Overall, the cruise was enjoyable, but some simple, no cost, measures could have improved the cruise no end. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
BUYER BEWARE! On my very recent trip, I found that Vantage’s EXOTIC INDIA, NEPAL & THE SACRID GANGES RIVER TOUR to be anything but exotic. These are the things you can expect: On the advertised 4 day, pre-tour Nepal ... Read More
BUYER BEWARE! On my very recent trip, I found that Vantage’s EXOTIC INDIA, NEPAL & THE SACRID GANGES RIVER TOUR to be anything but exotic. These are the things you can expect: On the advertised 4 day, pre-tour Nepal supplement, you will spend the better part of 2 days just traveling from Delhi to the hotel in Kathmandu and return to Delhi. Once there, due to an earthquake in 2015 and the lack funds for quick rebuilding, there was the worst pollution imaginable. There is thick dust everywhere; the city is like a giant construction site. Most of the historic buildings we had come to see had either been destroyed, were being propped up or slowly worked on. Many locals wear face masks. After a day or so, most everyone on our bus was wheezing and coughing. Roads were broken down and traveling from one place to another was on dirt roads, slow and intolerable. After Nepal we arrived in Delhi. Pollution here was also extremely bad and the poverty was worse. Families were sleeping in the streets covered with blankets during the day while they huddled together over fires to keep warm at night. The streets were toilets for the men. Things were getting worse on our bus as people were getting sicker. We were labeled the ‘hospital bus’. The advertised dinner visit with a local family turned out to be a meal, on an outdoor patio of a Maharaja’s house, on a cold and windy evening, with about 40 of my fellow travelers; not what I expected. I saw very little of Delhi because travel time to and from the hotel. I could have walked faster. Another day of traveling took us to Ranthanbore where we were going on a ‘safari’. On the first evening, I sat through a boring slide show before dinner and after dinner prepared for the pre-dawn wake-up the next day. We weren’t promised to see Bengal tigers, the major enticement for this tour, but our guide seemed to imply that hardly anyone EVER sees them; the brochure doesn’t mention that the estimated number of tigers in this very large park is around 50. I spent the very early and cold morning hours, with my fellow guests, hunting for them. All we saw were a few birds, deer and crocodiles. Some ‘safari’! The next destination was Agra; another half day of traveling. Agra was similar to Delhi, polluted and very poor, same old, same old. One of the main reasons I took this trip was that the Taj Mahal was on my bucket list. The bus left our hotel early in the morning for the visit to the Taj Mahal and, on arrival, it was veiled in low clouds, mist and the ever pollution. No one’s photographs showed its real beauty. I did enjoy going inside the magnificent Taj Mahal where no photographs were allowed. By the time we left, the sky was lighter but certainly not clear. A photographer took individual and group pictures with a faint Taj Mahal in the background. Another long day of traveling took us to Kolkata where we boarded our river boat for a 7 day cruise on the Ganges. The boat was very nice and the crew and staff very friendly like most people we encountered. The cabins were roomy and fairly well appointed. The large viewing windows in the room were excellent, so traveling on the Ganges was enlightening. A negative - the dining room was above the engine room and the noise, from the motor, made having a conversation over a meal almost impossible - while the boat was traveling. As far as the daily tours were concerned, if you liked visiting old temples and hearing about their history, you would enjoy them. There were a few very good tours to local villages where we saw the daily lives of people in these remote areas. Now for the worst part. Even though everyone was from North America, almost all the dishes, except breakfast, were Indian. I liked Indian food before I went on this trip but now I never want to see an Indian restaurant again! One day, almost everyone on the boat became very sick. It was very debilitating. I was still sick after arriving home and finally sought medical attention. After a number of tests, I was diagnosed as having a parasite in my system. I’m still on medication. I never drank the (tap) water and used bottled water for anything that passed my lips so I am confident that it came from the food, especially since almost everyone became sick the same day. Another thing that caused me a problem was that the towels came to the cabin damp (not fully dried). I came home with an eye infection. In no way was the boat up to Western standards; there are many problems that would not allow this boat to be operated in Europe or the US. After reading previous reviews, it would appear that this is not the first season that stomach type problems have been experienced with passengers on past tours. The trip home, from the boat to arriving home, took 35 hours to Eastern U.S; it took many of my fellow travelers, longer. I was impressed with the amount of security at the airports. Before entering an airport, each person had to show a passport and a boarding pass. These were examined and if the boarding pass did not show on the airline manifest, you could not enter the terminal. Armed soldiers were everywhere. Once in the terminal, your luggage and carry-on was screened before proceeding to the next area. You then had to go to the ticket counter to check-in and then through to the gates. Women were on separate lines going through security. I was patted down so often that I felt I was getting a massage. Passing that area, your hand luggage was tagged and your boarding pass was stamped. And you think our security is cumbersome and adequate in the USA? Do you still want to take this tour? Good luck! Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We booked the Upper Mekong Cruise (Laos to China) offered by Pandaw which advertised the route as from Laos' Vientiane to China's Jinghong City, Xishuangbanna region in Yunnam Province. It was advertised as a luxury river cruise ... Read More
We booked the Upper Mekong Cruise (Laos to China) offered by Pandaw which advertised the route as from Laos' Vientiane to China's Jinghong City, Xishuangbanna region in Yunnam Province. It was advertised as a luxury river cruise on the brand new Laos Pandaw boat which accommodates 20 passengers. One of the main reasons for us booking the cruise was to see the beautiful sceneries along the Mekong River, in particular China's Xichuangbanna region which is a popular holiday destination for seasoned travelers. Two months before sailing, we learned that the Laos Pandaw did not have a powerful engine to make it up river to China. Pandaw, claimed in its website that they built a brand new ship named the Yunnam Pandaw which later changed its name to Champa Pandaw. It claimed that the ship has twice the horsepower of the Laos Pandaw and can take 28 passengers. We boarded the ship in Laos's capital Vientiane at noon on October 19, and quickly learned from the previous cruise's passengers that their voyage was cut short by 2 days due to the fact the Champa Pandaw's maiden voyage never made it to its final destination in China's Jinghong, the capital city of Xishuangbanna Region. Our voyage started on time with half a day tour of Vientiane as schedule but was informed by the ship's manager that the upstream itinerary has been changed substantially due to the experience gained from the previous upstream and downstream cruises. The 1 day schedule visit to Burma (Myanmar) was cancelled, reason given as not safe region to visit. Before the start of the tour we understood that the schedule may be subjected to change but we still felt disappointed with substantial revisions of the itinerary even before the start. Sailing up the Mekong to Luang Prabang, Laos' tourist town, took 4 days and the boat was advancing slowly. Reason given was low water level due to the Chinese side not releasing water for the boat to go on normal speed. The captain on board only speaks Laotian, not English, and communication with passengers was mainly from the the cruise manager and the tour guide (Laotian). We missed the ship lock time slot at the Xiaburi Dam and was delayed by almost 18 hours. Sailing from Luang Prabang to the Golden Triangle continued to be slow. We visited a few Laos poor villages along the way, and moored before sunset on the river bank as the Champa Pandaw cannot sail at night. There appears to be no radar, GPS or satellite communications on board. Passenger can access the ship's wi-fi for free and internet connection depends on whether the ship can receive any cell tower signal. Overall, 50% of the time there is no internet connection. There is little on board activities aside from the visits to the poor Laos villages. Only 1 lecture by the tour guide on Laos history and culture, 2 food demos, and 1 tour of the ship's quarters on the 14 days itinerary. No organized fitness, music, performances or dancing activities. Plenty of lounge space for book reading and chatting. Embarkation in main ports are typical of river cruises but on the river banks to small villages, good footwear, strong legs and walking sticks are required. The crew did a good job in helping passengers to embark. At the Golden triangle, we only visited the Opium Museum, which is worth while. After the Golden Triangle, the ship sailed into many strong rapids, and was barely able to negotiate a few of them. When we reached the Chinese border, there is a strong rapid that the Champa Pandaw's engine was unable to bring the boat across. In two days, the captain failed to cross in six tries, while other ships and freighters did the crossing. In the last try, we were told to get off the ship to reduce weight. It was quite difficult for a group of seniors passengers to wear life jackets and climb up and down the ladder to get to the pebble beach landing. After the last try, we were told the engine was burned and a speed boat from China picked the passengers up and sailed the rest of the journey to Jinghong, our final destination in a speedboat. There was no way to enjoy the river banks sceneries on board the speed boat as compared to a river cruise boat. We were put up in a hotel for the last night of the cruise and as we wasted two days in running the rapid, we did not have a chance to do sight seeing in Xishuangbanna as originally scheduled. Overall, while the Champa Pandaw offered good services and excellent food on board of this voyage, the planning of the whole trip was poor. It appears that the ship does not have the power to run the rapids, it was not well equipped with communication gear to contact headoffice, and since the maiden voyage, the ship was never able to make it to Jinghong. The itinerary was frequently changed and we still don't understand why the scheduled Burma visit was cancelled due to safety reasons, yet we were told to land on the Burmese side when the ship offloaded the passengers to reduce weight. We paid a fair price for the trip but we feel that the value for money did not live to expectation. We feel that the company has not done adequate preparation on the equipment side, and have not learned from the Laos Pandaw experience while still market the segment to Jinghong as its final destination. We hope the company can offer some explanations. Read Less
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We chose this particular cruise because the itinerary seemed to cover the Rhine and Mosel Rivers in greater depth than other river cruise lines. This was our 50th cruise with various cruise lines (combination of ocean, river, adventure, ... Read More
We chose this particular cruise because the itinerary seemed to cover the Rhine and Mosel Rivers in greater depth than other river cruise lines. This was our 50th cruise with various cruise lines (combination of ocean, river, adventure, etc.), and our third trip with Vantage Deluxe World Travel. Based on our most recent experience, it will also be our last trip with Vantage not just because this cruise was totally ruined for us but also because of the way we have been treated with complete lack of respect and lack of any customer service after our return despite the fact that we are supposedly "valued" Presidents Club members with Vantage. Thus we are writing this review to alert other prospective Vantage clients of their many pitfalls. Our major concern was with the terrible cabin we were ultimately assigned aboard the River Splendor. To start at the beginning of this saga, we originally booked Vantage's "Switzerland and the Heart of the Rhine and Moselle" river cruise on the Navigator sailing October 5, 2015 with cabin 306 assigned along with booking a 3-night pre-extension in Lucerne. Vantage cancelled this sailing and thus we agreed to rebook it for September 7, 2016, on the River Splendor with the same cabin promised and the 3-night pre-extension in Lucerne. Vantage cancelled again and thus we agreed to rebook on the September 17, 2016, sailing with the same cabin promised although the itinerary was now reversed and the 3-night Lucerne extension became post instead of pre. After repeatedly checking our Portfolio, the cabin was always shown as TBD thus we repeatedly called Vantage and were assured by numerous agents that there was no problem as "cabins were not assigned yet", but they now promised us cabin 329 which was still acceptable. However, after time, the Portfolio still showed TBD. After a few more calls, we were now told that being "President's Club" we were obviously being upgraded. In reality, 2 days prior to departure, the Portfolio finally showed a cabin 337 assigned which was not acceptable. Seeing we are not novice cruisers, we did not like the location of this cabin being above the engines and below the Captain's Club. While we were given no choice at this point, we hoped to make the best of the situation until we discovered cabin 337 has an UNBEARABLE STENCH as it is located directly next to and above the ship's sewer vent so that despite the fact that we paid for a so-called French balcony, we could not open it due to the odor that persisted day in and day out and even permeated the room with the door closed! Perhaps it should be reclassified as a STENCH BALCONY. In addition to the constant lies we received from Vantage throughout this booking process and the unacceptable cabin which entirely ruined our cruise experience and destroyed our faith in Vantage, there were major changes to the original itinerary throughout the course of time. Keep in mind, Vantage had our full payment for almost 2 years! Our original paperwork which was never revised shows beginning the cruise in Amsterdam (not being bused to Arnhem) and included an Amsterdam canal boat tour, included a tour of Cologne (where we never even went), included a tour of Luxembourg (which we now paid extra for as an optional tour), and the Lucerne extension somehow became 2 nights instead of 3 and skipped the tour of Bern with the included lunch (enroute from Basel to Lucerne) and skipped the included Farewell dinner. By the way, because the Bern excursion was omitted, we arrived in Lucerne well before noon only to discover we could not check in to the hotel until 3pm so to everyone's dismay wound up sitting in the lobby for hours after the Lucerne walking tour. In view of the various problems and disappointments we experienced in booking this trip, the unbearable stench in our cabin, and the entire stress this situation has caused, we think asking for compensation of no less than half of what we paid for the journey (not including air) is fair which according to their invoice would be a total of $5249. While the hotel manager aboard the River Splendor seemed very conscientious and understanding and genuinely concerned about the matter, he had no authority beyond the ship to rectify the situation and compensate us in any way as his hands are in effect tied by the Boston office. Since returning home on October 4, we have tried to deal with the matter through the director of customer service to no avail as he has failed to come up with any mutually satisfactory compensation, does not return our repeated phone calls, and basically has blown us off. As a last resort, we reached out via email to Vantage’s president, Henry Lewis, who also never had the courtesy to respond to the email in any shape, form, or fashion. A word to the wise to future travelers, there are many other tour operators and cruise lines out there which are more reputable and will cater to your needs! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We needed some well earned R&R with some pampering. We booked a late Rhine cruise with Viking, a company we had used successfully previously. The shipboard experience and crew were excellent but desperately poor administration, ... Read More
We needed some well earned R&R with some pampering. We booked a late Rhine cruise with Viking, a company we had used successfully previously. The shipboard experience and crew were excellent but desperately poor administration, customer care and complaint handling turned it into a sleep depriving disaster. We missed the whole of the first day in Amsterdam. We were appalled that the flight provided by Viking would never have got us to the ship prior to sailing. We were sent documentation ( provided after several calls, some not returned) which included the whole cruise. We embarked in Utrecht at the dead of night after enduring a strange journey which led our American friends ( others were affected too) to ask whether we had been taken hostage. Other more minor points. Failure to provide documents without being chased up. Failure to return calls. Failure to get double/twin room arrangements right on board and in the hotel. Failure to put us on a transfer list to our final hotel leaving us believing we had no room for 36 hours. That was our R&R. That`s Viking. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
This cruise went from Nuremburg through Austria to Budapest in Hungary. The ship itself was clean and well appointed as was our room with a balcony. The crew was helpful and very nice. Food was good. The lounge was nice but could ... Read More
This cruise went from Nuremburg through Austria to Budapest in Hungary. The ship itself was clean and well appointed as was our room with a balcony. The crew was helpful and very nice. Food was good. The lounge was nice but could probably have used at least one more waiter. For three days our boat was off schedule so that it could go into dry dock for repair. We were completely off the boat for the day that it was in dry dock. We spent hours being bused to places that the ship should have docked in. Communication for these changes were not well done. The first two nights, we were docked looking at sand and gravel pits. Two nights and one day we were docked right next to other Viking ships so that we could all go through to shore through each boat. This meant that, if we would have wanted to sit on our balcony or open our curtain, we would have been directly looking into the stateroom of another ship. Balcony was truly a waste of money. This same scenario happened last year on Viking to an acquaintance of mine. This tells me that it isn't all that unusual. We were not offered anything for trouble. The only exception to that was the day of the boat being in dry dock, we were told that we could catch the bus and go back to the ship. After 1 ½ hours on the bus, we waited (no bathroom) 45 minutes for the ship to come. After this, the Captain offered us one free drink in the bar! Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We took the Torgil for a cruise on the Douro. I commend the staff who executed the Viking program with professionalism and efficiency. I also will say that the cabin was quite nice although I would have liked the bird poop and other ... Read More
We took the Torgil for a cruise on the Douro. I commend the staff who executed the Viking program with professionalism and efficiency. I also will say that the cabin was quite nice although I would have liked the bird poop and other dirt to have been washed off the veranda. Beyond that I have little positive to say. The scenery was redundant. And the excursions required lengthy bus trips. The places that we traveled to had little things of interest and the lunches and dinners provided during these excursions were terrible. The trip was very structured and there was little free time. Everything was mapped out, which may be good for the average guest who was around 75 years old and not very active. The guides were friendly but we found that TripAdvisor offered more information on what to see in locations and where to shop than the guides. Food on the ship was not exceptional and not really consistent with the Portuguese food that we experienced when we ate off the ship. (We were the only ones who explored the restaurants in the area, which made the trip much more interesting.) The evenings were dull and boring, as were most of the guests. People weren't really warm and friendly. Forget about partying. The worst is that Viking limits Wi-Fi access without disclosing it and we almost had a major problem at work as a result. They never disclose this, which to us is false advertising. The other bad thing is that the program director on the ship insisted that we write that the trip exceeded our expectations, driving the importance of saying this in the questionnaire which I think was totally uncalled for and unprofessional. I would never take a Viking trip again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
We chose this cruise on recommendations from our travel consultant and friends. We are a retired couple and to us this was a trip of our lifetime. The first week was brilliant, food accommodation, service was just what we had dreamed ... Read More
We chose this cruise on recommendations from our travel consultant and friends. We are a retired couple and to us this was a trip of our lifetime. The first week was brilliant, food accommodation, service was just what we had dreamed of. We had been a bit concerned about the height of the river from reports in Australia but presumed that there were no concerns as the cruise left Amsterdam on time and no mention of potential difficulties. How wrong were we? When we arrived in Regansberg where we were just to have a short stay before moving on over night to Vienna is when we were informed we had to stay overnight as the ship could not get under the next bridge due to high water levels. That one night turned into two and although staff were helpful and our Cruise director organized bus trips to see the places we were missing out on it wasn't until the afternoon of the second day we were informed we would have to leave the ship and be transported by coach to Vienna. This was a bus journey of 5 hours with a stopover for lunch. We were given money to pay for lunch. We were then advised that the concert in Vienna was to be provided free to all. On arrival in Vienna we were taken to a restaurant for a meal, which was awful, then expected to go straight to the concert without the opportunity to shower or change. My husband and I were exhausted so declined the concert in favour of the hotel, very sad as I was looking so forward to this! I have a spinal issue and those hours of sitting had made me very sore. The cruise was now obviously a bus trip! I have emailed and they have given us a $800 credit on another cruise! That's not much good to us. I understand about no control over weather conditions, but surely due to flood conditions in other parts of Europe, there should have been some idea of this happening. We were not given a choice we should have been, the second half of the trip was awful, the only good hotel was one night in the Carlton Ritz in Budapest. All the meals provided were nowhere near the standard on board. I would advise future guests to carefully check weather conditions and Travel Marvel to reconsider future policies. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Viking River Cruise, Viking Heimdal, Lyon to Avignon, May 4-11, 2016 Viking River Cruises presents an attractive, even seductive, face. From the alluring advertising to the handsome “long boats” decked out in understated ... Read More
Viking River Cruise, Viking Heimdal, Lyon to Avignon, May 4-11, 2016 Viking River Cruises presents an attractive, even seductive, face. From the alluring advertising to the handsome “long boats” decked out in understated Scandinavian hues to the exception people who staff their ships to the fine cuisine and excellent local guides who make each destination come alive, Viking does it right. It is only when something goes wrong, whether due to Mother Nature or mechanical trouble, that Viking's failings come to the fore, and the promised excellence falters. We were a group of four booked on the Viking cruise from Lyon to Avignon, starting May 4, 2016. Arrival at the ship was largely uneventful, even though the arrangements for clients arriving on their own was not ideal. Finding the ship required a last minute phone call; fortunately we had a global phone at our disposal and we able to get the necessary information and get close to the ship to offload luggage. Personnel aboard the beautiful Viking Heimdal were unfailingly helpful, courteous and a pleasure to work with. The first indication that all would not be well came the first evening when the staff announced that high water in the Saone River prohibited sailing to the first stop (Macon). The excursion to Beaujolais would be handled by coach from Lyon, eliminating a half day river cruising each direction. Profuse apologies for the situation but nothing in the way of acknowledgement that a significant attraction of the itinerary was to be missed. It must be reiterated that the personnel aboard Heimdal were top notch and were doing their best within the resources given them by Viking to make everyone happy and give them an excellent vacation. Just one example, is the abysmal internet capacity Viking builds into its ships. Even the staff have great difficulty assisting clients online due to the poor quality of the internet onboard. After the third day in Lyon, we sailed in the early am to Vienne, arriving as most people were just getting up for breakfast. That day and the next couple went as planned in the itinerary, with the excellent local guides providing a fine introduction to their towns and the region. After a day in Avignon, the captain announced before dinner that the planned cruising to Tarascon (for Arles) had to be scrapped as a mechanical problem had developed with the ship. Again, coach tours to Arles had been arranged, but for a second time at least two partial days of river cruising were missed. Also, again, profuse apologies for the change in plans but nothing in the way of accommodation. Close reading of the cruise contract would reveal that such changes in itinerary are totally in the hands of the cruse line and no compensation is required. The total absence of any consideration for the diminution of the cruse offering, however, is a reflection of the corporate culture of Viking. It would have been so easy to simply offer the optional excursions as complimentary, for example, as a show of good will when forces, of whatever origin, caused the total cruise experience to be significantly diminished. We had, after all, booked a river cruise, not a coach tour with river segments. Of the scheduled 8 legs of river cruising, we accomplished 4; of the 6 cities/towns to overnight, we did 4, with three nights in Lyon and another three in Avignon. Then, the final straw, came when, on the penultimate evening of the cruise, the final bill was presented and it contained a credit (“from an outside source”, read our travel agent) that had not been revealed to us at the beginning of the cruise. We were left with a sizable credit balance that Viking policy would not allow to the used for gratuities, and also Viking policy had to be used on the cruise for which it was given. This “take it or leave it” seemed to be firm Viking policy, with no explanation as to why we had not been informed of the credit on boarding. In the end, we arranged a full day excursion for our last day, using up the credit and some extra out of our pocket. We had a great day but would not have chosen this excursion without the circumstances. In fairness, Viking has offered a sizable voucher for use on a future cruise as compensation for this last glitch but given our overall unhappiness with Viking as a company we are unlikely to use it. Finally, should anyone from Viking Heimdal, May 4 Lyon to Avignon, be reading this, nothing here should detract from the excellent service we enjoyed aboard. The staff onboard, from Captain Laurent, Cruise Director Bea, especially Program Director Patricia and Concierge Doru, to the restaurant and bar staffs and housekeeping, all performed superbly within the bounds of Viking policies. It is a shame that such dedicated people, superb ships, top notch cuisine, appealing itineraries and expensive advertising are diminished by a company that, in the face of the unexpected, places its bottom line above the fulfillment of the promise of an exceptional river cruising experience. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but the coach trip with river segments is just not a river cruise. Somehow, Viking should know that an make it right. Instead we were offered a bribe. I cannot recommend Viking. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
The boat is very modern & clean. Some of the other boats we saw looked like floating old people's homes but Emerald Star is shiny chrome & glass. Cabin was well appointed. The swimming pool area is great and a dinky but ... Read More
The boat is very modern & clean. Some of the other boats we saw looked like floating old people's homes but Emerald Star is shiny chrome & glass. Cabin was well appointed. The swimming pool area is great and a dinky but adequate gym. Overworked staff do their best but when you've paid a lot of money for a week''s holiday you don't need to spend it feeling sorry for them. We were constantly reminded how the chef had to produce our food in a tiny kitchen. Sorry, but I too have worked hard to pay for this cruise so it's not my problem. A lot of Americans on our cruise which made the buffet breakfasts & lunches an uncivilised scrum. Americans don't queue nicely. No reserved seating for evening meals so no guarantee of sitting together if you are in a party. Having paid a premium for good cabins we found ourselves most of the time, when docked, directly alongside another river boat looking into each other's cabins. Also some bilge type odours wafting up as there was nowhere for it to escape. Some issues getting on and off the boat in these circumstances as you had to climb up and over up to 3 vessels - not good for anyone with mobility issues although the crew do try their best. We were looking forward to the cinema at night but it only happened twice. Such a shame as it's a great feature. I was disappointed that we did most of the travelling at night so we never got to relax and enjoy the view as the TV adverts show. We were of course too busy on shore excursions during the day so you can't have it all. Entertainment was a joke. A couple of poor quizzes. Drinks package very poor value as they are so understaffed you wait ages to get served. Excursions were good and pretty well organised. Our cruise director was the reason I would never do an Emerald cruise again. She was a perfect storm of loud, patronising & bossy. Shouty Sheryl the Peril. Very rude & dismissive to some passengers with what I thought to be reasonable requests/complaints. If she'd had a cattle prod I suspect she would have used it with her perma smile still on her face. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
The river cruise certainly has potential for an incredible vacation. The pace of seeing the countryside go by, and falling to sleep to the gentle forward movement are both unique and highly pleasurable. The final approach to Budapest was ... Read More
The river cruise certainly has potential for an incredible vacation. The pace of seeing the countryside go by, and falling to sleep to the gentle forward movement are both unique and highly pleasurable. The final approach to Budapest was incredible and the Viking Egil was a beautiful ship. Overall though, Viking cut too many corners and by the time our trip was over, I was ready to be done with it. The food and drink were inferior. I admit, I am serious about food. I am an avid gardener and cook. Most of what I serve is made from scratch, usually from my garden and the farmer’s market. When I eat processed food, its unusual, and I’m thirsty. I was thirsty all the time on the trip. This was also very disappointing to me, as one of the reasons I go to Europe is for the very quality of the food. The final dinner, as we approached Budapest, featured Hungarian goulash, prepared by the Hungarian chief. Sounds like a slam dunk, good move, right? Not quite. What was served were chips of beef on a plate, covered with a brown colored sauce. I don’t know what that was. Hungarian goulash is a soup. The cruise package includes beer and wine with meals. These come from Viking labeled bottles that are clearly inferior. I’m not a big drinker, and it was a surprising cheapness on a luxury cruise, but not a big deal until we were in Germany, sampling world quality beer onshore. After that, forget it, it angered me. We paid a king’s ransom for that trip. I only have one beer or glass of wine with my meal. Viking saved money on that one serving, but lost a customer right there. You should be prepared that the majority of you time will not be spent seeing European sites. The outings pictured in the brochures are very short. The onshore day usually began at 10, assembling in the parking lot for bus transport that took between 30 minutes to 2 hours. Their goal seemed to be to get us back to the ship by 4pm, so you see the excursion itself was very short. The tour guides varied in quality from funny, insightful and truly delightful to a complete waste of expensive vacation time. Be aware that the tour guides will expect a tip, as will the entire ship crew and program director, separately. You should factor in another $500 for tips. Where your time will be spent is fraternizing with your fellow shipmates on the ship. All meals are served at tables of 6 to 8, although you can opt out and have a casual meal on the deck. After dinner, people move to the lounge where there is music, sometimes dancing and more drinks. These drinks are charged to your room. It is important to consider how this will sit with you. The clientele for these trips are almost entirely white, over 60, church going Christian, conservative, affluent Americans. Ours included a boisterous contingency from Texas. If that is a demographic you want to spend your vacation with, you will enjoy it. If not, you will find it uncomfortable, tedious or boring. Dinner was enough for us. The stacked docking, or double docking was my safety concern. This is a practice where a single slip is used for 2 or 3 ships. The first is roped to the pier, the 2nd and third are attached sideways. You enter the middle or outside ship by passing through the first and second. Usually, the middle ship stunk terribly of mold or mildew and sewage. This stacked docking required us to close the curtain, making the stateroom claustrophobic and rendering the balcony unusable. They run the generator when they dock like this for some reason, and that is a constant noise that reverberates between the ships. What concerned me the most though, was that the only means of exit during these dockings was through the stateroom room and down the ship's hall. This lack of egress would be illegal in a hotel or apartment. I have traveled a lot. I filled my last passport and needed to have additional pages put in, not once but twice. I understand and completely expect that disappointments and inconveniences are a part of travel. You have to suck it up, and go on with a smile to enjoy the rest. My overall complaint on this cruise though, was that there was something to suck up every day and that is just not acceptable for the price we paid. My specific complaint is that the stacked docking is a safety concern and with no means of exit, eventually someone will lose their life, trapped in a fire on a Viking ship. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
River cruise: Avignon to Lyon. Mostly elderly couples. As a single, felt unwelcome by crew and passengers. At dining times, told empty places at table "saved" for others. On shore excursions, many passengers unable to walk ... Read More
River cruise: Avignon to Lyon. Mostly elderly couples. As a single, felt unwelcome by crew and passengers. At dining times, told empty places at table "saved" for others. On shore excursions, many passengers unable to walk without assistance. Need plenty of change for tips on shore excursions. Optional shore excursions (many) were expensive. Most time spent on tour bus; very little time spent cruising river. Gangways to ship can be slippery. Cannot sit in the Aquavit Lounge without being asked if you want to purchase a drink. Extremely dark and treacherous stone steps with rope "handrail" in winery to sample Beaujolais. Optional painting class in Arles a waste of time except for the lunch at a local restaurant; superb chocolate shop in St.-Rémy-de-Provence recommended by tour guide at stop there. Excellent optional cooking class in Lyon attended by only three passengers; made cream puffs (for an army) in a very detailed French way with fresh pear mixed into the whipped cream. Read Less
35 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Buyer beware!!!! This was certainly a holiday of a lifetime and we call it the "Great Aussie Rip Off". Please make sure you read the fine, fine print carefully. Budapest to Amsterdam Friday 18 March for 15 days. We believed ... Read More
Buyer beware!!!! This was certainly a holiday of a lifetime and we call it the "Great Aussie Rip Off". Please make sure you read the fine, fine print carefully. Budapest to Amsterdam Friday 18 March for 15 days. We believed we had researched this holiday thoroughly before booking with APT. We asked the correct questions. We finally booked with APT because we liked the fact it was an Australian owned company. We believed the testamonials from the APT owners and we liked what we saw on heir DVD's, brochures and information books. We now know that ALL APT brochures, information and DVD's are false, implied, misleading and deceptive. Firstly, we saw your APT ad for $5,995 per person twin share (fly free and free upgrade). Flight Centre, Hastings went on to charge us $9,840.50 per person. (Our free room upgrade alone was an extra us $800). Majority of people on the cruise got 2 for 1 offer and paid between $5,000 and $6,000 per person because they booked last minute or through the cruise expo. This information was the opposite of what Flight Centre, Hastings told us. When pulling up in Budapest to the APT Cruise ship it was definitely NOT the Cruise ship that we were shown in the brochures or DVD's and it had just had a paint job to cover up all the imperfections. There were no balcony suites. There was no pool on the top deck (as we were shown when booking). We were advised that every room had their own mini-bar that was re-stocked every day. There was no mini-bar nor bar fridge (for that matter) and we had warm bottles of water left in the room on the side boards. We could not take photos of most Palaces we visited. Beware when travelling over the Easter Period (as most town, shops) you go to are closed - what a waste of money that was. We expected to see an equestrian show at the horse riding school - instead we were shown empty arena and horses that we could not take pictures of. APT brochures again are implied and misleading. Oh - one of our favourites.... Rudesheim - Gondola Ride. If you get a chairlift on the way up the hill and the same thing brings you back - it is called a chairlift! Not a Gondola (regardless of the correct name call it what it is). Once again, implied and deceptive. The on-board alcoholic drinks were watered down in the second week. The Baileys Irish Cream was Milk! The beer was flat and the wine was cheap and tasteless. Your 24 hour gym could not be used between 6.30pm and 9.30pm (any day) because Fine Dining Restaurant took over the room. There was only 2 restaurants on board. The not 3 as stated as the restaurant upstairs had almost the same menu as downstairs (just scaled down). False and misleading. The hotel manager and the cruise ship director on-board spoke to people as if they were lesser than the staff and most of the time and always smiled through gritted teeth. These women should never hold the position they hold. Overall - what a disgrace our APT River cruise was leaving us with bitter memories. This trip was only worth the 2 for 1 person deal $10,000 would have been a trip well spent. $21,200 was certainly NOT worth my savings! We contacted APT upon our return to advise of the above and they have brushed us off and denied, denied, denied. Mind you, they were NOT on board to deny? Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
This Christmas Market Cruise failed to have Christmas markets. So very disappointing. I had taken that specific cruise because of that very offering. The three levels of walking tours, written in their literature, were not offered. ... Read More
This Christmas Market Cruise failed to have Christmas markets. So very disappointing. I had taken that specific cruise because of that very offering. The three levels of walking tours, written in their literature, were not offered. A leisure walk was eventually offered. I utilized that one so that I had time for photography. The guides were knowledgeable. The tour of a castle did not happen, it was closed. My walk-up call came 21 minutes late. Food was very good on the boat, with a variety of selections. Service was good at meals. A pianist was the entertainment on the boat. The best tour was an extra excursion dealing with WWII sites. Well worth the extra money. The guide was passionate about sharing what he had researched. He had the tour well organized. This was the most unChristmasy a trip I have taken in all my years of holiday travel. I thought crusing with Viking would be a wonderful way for me to travel. I will never book with the company again. Their booklet information does not match the reality of the cruise. I trusted them to be experts and plan a trip to match what would actually be available. I was very put off by their excuses as to why so many offerings never came about. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
I just have to say it - we had an amazing time on the Rinda. All the staff worked hard to please the passengers. The food was excellent, the rooms were fine. Service over all was a 4 or 5. However, as wonderful as the experience on ... Read More
I just have to say it - we had an amazing time on the Rinda. All the staff worked hard to please the passengers. The food was excellent, the rooms were fine. Service over all was a 4 or 5. However, as wonderful as the experience on the ship was, it was overshadowed by the terrible customer service provided by Viking's customer service. You already know (if you've read other reviews) that the advertisements for Paris & the Heart of Normandy Tour did not really dock in Paris as expected by the advertising. They actually send you a letter after you book informing you that they were denied a docking permit. News flash: unless you take their airport transfers their answer on how to get to the ship is to spend approx. 50 Euros to take a cab from Paris (more if directly from the airport). Our experience is that we were flying in a few days early, and declined paying for Viking's Paris extension. We were delighted to see on the website a few days before we left that there was now a shuttle bus provided to take ship passengers to Paris, and back to the ship so a day of shopping could be enjoyed. We called Viking to confirm that we would be accepted on the shuttle, and after three phone calls had confirmed the time and location (which turned out to be incorrect). On the proper day, we were at the site, however no bus. Three more phone calls to Viking (now at international minutes on our cell phone) netted three hangups, even though we provided our cell phone number on the third call. We finally took a cab to the ship. While on the way to the ship I turned on the data on my cell phone, and discovered that someone had written me back (not called - did they care that I was standing in the cold?) to tell me that there was no shuttle from a hotel (that's not what I asked for), and that I should take a cab. Once at the ship, they were distressed to learn that I was given the incorrect location, and that they saw no reason why we couldn't be included on the shuttle. They also reimbursed our cab fare. I actually spoke to the customer service rep that emailed me after that cruise was over, strictly by chance when I called Viking to complain. His position was that the shuttle would not have let me on anyway, since I hadn't paid for a transfer, and that the prior customer service reps that I spoke to before the trip had no right to give me that information. My position is that if a company provides false advertising as to the location of their ship, they should provide transportation from where the ship should have been located to where it really was. And if the folks at Viking send you an email with times and locations, you need to back it up. Also, even if you book your air through Viking air, you will never hear from them if the airline changes the itinerary (and they did for many of us). Viking clearly states it in their booklet, so keep checking the airline website regarding your reservation. Moral of the story: If you're going to go with Viking, do it all with Viking. The folks who did had fewer complaints. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
The cruise up the Douro river was nice but every stop had a LONG bus ride to get to all of the shore excursion towns & destinations. This included the bus ride from Lisbon to Porto. I also found it strange that the transpiration ... Read More
The cruise up the Douro river was nice but every stop had a LONG bus ride to get to all of the shore excursion towns & destinations. This included the bus ride from Lisbon to Porto. I also found it strange that the transpiration started in Lisbon but ended in Porto. For those of us who book our own airfare to and from cruises, it presented a bit of a challenge. Other than that, the food and the scenery during the trip were OK. On board - the service was very good. The waiters and bar staff were very accommodating. Unlike most other cruises, on this particular trip, the entire cruise staff was from Portugal. One bright point about the trip was the food. It was excellent with a mixture of American and local Portuguese cuisine. The bar had a limited stock of liquor. I favor Bombay Sapphire Gin but there was none to be had on board. Nor were there any descent Bourbons or Scotches. The wines served at dinner were so-so. For the shore excursions, we had the same tour guide every day. Her English wasn't the best so there were times when we had a tough time understanding her. Each time we docked, we were in a small town with practically nothing to do. We have taken several ocean cruises and one other Viking River Cruise on the Danube from Budapest to Nuremberg and this was the worst as far as itinerary. Unfortunately, although I think that the Viking line is quite nice, I would not recommend this particular cruise to anyone. Use Viking but go somewhere else. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Because of low water levels on the Danube, our trip was not up to our expectations. Avalon handled the situation very poorly. We called them before we left for the cruise and we were told that sailings were going as scheduled. They ... Read More
Because of low water levels on the Danube, our trip was not up to our expectations. Avalon handled the situation very poorly. We called them before we left for the cruise and we were told that sailings were going as scheduled. They actually knew at that time that other trips had been interrupted. Not only did we have to switch our boat once, but we had to pack up and move twice. From other reviews we were told that the Avalon crew was exceptional. We did not find that was the case. As a matter of fact, our cruise director had no personality at all. The crew was lacking smiles and I feel it may be because of the additional work that they had to do that week. We embarked in Budapest and attempted to sail to Vienna. After an hour and a half we were told by the river authorities that we had to turn around. We spent an additional 2 days on the boat in Budapest sailing nowhere. Avalon made another poor decision to sail the vessel into Hungry when they could've bussed us an hour and a half West. They did offer $500 refund and a free concert p/p. We feel that was totally inadequate. We were also unable to do some of the other extra excursions that we had paid for in advance and were hoping to do. Also, we never made it to Nuremberg. That was partially our choice because we did not want to spend a day bussing around for approximately nine hours! I would definitely think twice about doing another river cruise and certainly not with Avalon! I do have to mention that the boat was beautiful and the design of the rooms was lovely. Sorry we couldn't have spent more time sailing on the boat. Read Less
37 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
We [two couples] selected this cruise because we wanted to experience the St Lawrence and the Thousand Islands during the fall. We knew from the brochure and company website that the ship was small but both depicted a cozy environment with ... Read More
We [two couples] selected this cruise because we wanted to experience the St Lawrence and the Thousand Islands during the fall. We knew from the brochure and company website that the ship was small but both depicted a cozy environment with small but reasonably comfortable cabins. We paid extra for the Premier Cabins, a huge mistake, see below. The ship itself is extremely small. The only enclosed public space is the dining room which doubles as the bar and lounge. It is barely large enough to accommodate all of the passengers. The kitchen is extremely small, making it difficult for the cooks to prepare food in a timely manner. We had two services for lunch and dinner with half of the dining room set up for meals and the other half set up as a lounge. Half the passengers literally watch the other half eat because there is nowhere else to go on the ship. It was too cool to lounge on deck and the cabins are claustrophobic. The few times they attempted to serve everyone at one time emphasized the kitchens limitations. It took over an hour and a half from salad to dessert for the Captains Dinner despite the best efforts of the chefs and servers. I should note, the crew from the captain on down did everything they could to make up for the ship. They were friendly, accommodating and hardworking, but were fighting a losing battle. Food was good but the cooks were clearly hampered by the size of the kitchen. The entertainment was also handicapped by the space limitations. For example, the last evening we had a dance featuring a local trio. In order to set up for the dance they asked the passengers to clear the dining room and either visit the bridge or go to their cabins while the crew set up for the dance. Neither option was particularly enticing given the time of night or the size of the cabins. Land tours were interesting but limited. Transportation was via school buses and the ships schedule did not allow for much free time in port. Internet was available only in the main dining room and streaming services like Facebook were blocked. The internet was weak or nonexistent at times but that is not unusual on river cruises. There is no TV service on board. Overall, I would not recommend this cruise. Another cruise line might be an alternative but given our experience I'd suggest driving the route and staying in hotels along the way. The river towns including Montreal and Quebec offer a wide variety of restaurants and accommodations and you are in view of the river most of the way. There are numerous day cruises available in various ports if you want to sight see from the river. Clearly, for what we paid for "premium rooms" we could have stayed in five star hotels for a seven day road trip. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
This was our second Viking River Cruise and we were excited at the beginning because our first cruise had been such a delight. We took the Portraits of Southern France cruise in late September/early October 2015. We were warmly welcomed ... Read More
This was our second Viking River Cruise and we were excited at the beginning because our first cruise had been such a delight. We took the Portraits of Southern France cruise in late September/early October 2015. We were warmly welcomed when we boarded the Viking Buri in Chalon sur Saone. Within hours, the ship’s management informed us that passengers boarding from another Viking cruise had contracted and/or been exposed to Gastroenteritis. As a result, Viking suspended coffee station service and lunch buffet service, and passengers were not permitted to serve themselves anything at any meal. On day six of the cruise, the program director announced that GI illness was no longer a concern. Notwithstanding, Viking never resumed those services. Things went seriously awry on day 3 as a result of the failure of one of the ship’s engine generators. It took 36 hours for the program director to advise the passengers that there was an issue and how it would be resolved. As a result, the ship spent three days docked in Lyon while we waited for a part to arrive to effect the repair. Viking arranged for us to visit the other scheduled stops on the itinerary, which meant they put us on buses and bused us around France. For example, part of the appeal of this cruise’s itinerary was a full-day visit to Arles. Instead we spent almost 2-1/2 hours on a bus to Arles and almost two hours, again on a bus, to re-board the Buri. Because the ship was continually a day behind the schedule and not docked at the places we were visiting, passengers did not have access to the ship during most of the shore excursions. As a result, quite a few passengers elected not to take the shore excursions because the bused versions of the excursions were too physically demanding – not because of the sites visited but because of the extensive periods of time on the bus. In an effort to make up time after finally leaving Lyon, the Buri cruised at night, which meant we never got to enjoy sitting on deck and watching the river during the day. On the positive side, the Buri, like the other Viking long ship we traveled on, is comfortable, clean and well-organized. The staff is very professional, and everyone extended themselves to make us comfortable. The food was excellent as were the guides for shore excursions. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Boarded Viking Buri 9/27/15 from Chalon France for Portraits of Southern France 8 day cruise. Checked in, welcomed, and then unpacked in our stateroom. Later we reviewed the cruise materials. Read a notice: Opening paragraph, "As ... Read More
Boarded Viking Buri 9/27/15 from Chalon France for Portraits of Southern France 8 day cruise. Checked in, welcomed, and then unpacked in our stateroom. Later we reviewed the cruise materials. Read a notice: Opening paragraph, "As you have already been informed by our Program Director, a few passengers on board are currently suffering from gastrointestinal illness." We'd been on board maybe an hour. First time we were informed. Didn't know who the P. Director was. (Anyone boarding at Chalon didn't either.) The notice stated it is highly contagious especially among 65+ populations. Can lead to complications due to severe dehydration. They listed the protocols the staff was taking to contain the outbreak and recommended we continuously wash our hands and not to touch our face. 3 days later we called the desk to inform them I was ill. We knew we would be quarantined in our room. Quickly realized there is not one staff member assigned to monitor the condition of infected guests nor to gather pertinent medical history. No checking whatsoever. 10 hours of unrelenting diarrhea and vomiting, I asked to obtain a prescription to control the vomiting due to preexisting chronic kidney condition. Concierge was sent into Lyon. Couldn't obtain the medication as it required a prescription. I asked for a doctor. 4 hours later one arrived. He wrote 2 prescriptions in which my roommate was temporarily released into Lyon to get them filled (she doesn't speak French). This was an hour before dusk. I recovered. Later earned that 7 infected passengers had boarded from a previous Viking cruise days before. At the end of our cruise (10/3) 22 people had contracted the illness. I asked the Hotel Director 1. Why weren't arriving guests informed before going to their staterooms, thus it would be their decision to take the gamble? 2. What would have been Viking's response if someone had said they did not want to board given the active breakout? 3. Was I correct in assuming no Viking staff was assigned to monitor ill guests (not treat, just to check every 4 hours, keep a list of concerns, etc.)? He confirmed that was correct. (Second unfortunate circumstance was the ship broke down in Lyon - 2 day fix, lots of buses to towns, foreshortened tours and a stretch of night cruising to catch-up.) I wrote Viking (Woodland Hills, California). Their email expressed sympathy and they would forward my concerns to the Western European office. They emphasized the illness can occur where there are large numbers of people in a self-contained space. Wouldn't directly answer my question about informing guests of an active out breakout before boarding, or assigning a person to oversee ill guests. My AAA office also contacted Viking which resulted in Viking offering my travel mate and I a voucher (approx. $1000 each) toward another cruise. We declined as it meant gambling again and another $5-6000 from us to pay the balance. Had they wanted this to be a goodwill offer, it should simply be in cash. I've traveled on land tours (Road Scholar and OATS). Both times impressed with their tour directors as they clearly knew how to engage medical assistance when needed. Not locked in a room with no one checking. One large cruise (Holland America) that given it's size, does provide medical support Read Less
38 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
We booked on this cruise because the previous year our Rhine cruise had been so good. The food, service and accommodation on the ship were excellent for this year as well as in the previous year. The staff who work on the ship are ... Read More
We booked on this cruise because the previous year our Rhine cruise had been so good. The food, service and accommodation on the ship were excellent for this year as well as in the previous year. The staff who work on the ship are excellent in every department, sadly let down by their headquarters. However this year there were problems with water levels between Passau and Regensburg. The company handled the situation very badly form beginning to end. The quality of a company can be judged by how they handle the problems. In this respect Emerald are in a class of their own and it is the bottom class. Because on the previous cruise the company had ordered the boat to travel upstream from Passau against the Captain’s wishes, it could not get back to Passau because of low water levels. So the boat stayed in Regensburg next to a building site (with pneumatic drills operating 2 metres from our cabin). On day 3 we were told that we could go home or take the tour by coach. So we packed our cases and waited and waited for flights back to UK. Eventually we were told that the ship could travel an option we took, because the alternative we were offered was a flight to the wrong airport with a 12 hour wait in Munich Airport (no contest). Because of this late departure from Regensburg, two shore excursions were missed (Melk and Vienna). If all had gone well, this would have been an excellent holiday. However what we got was poor value for money because there was only a token compensation. Unlike many retail transactions, the customer takes the risk not the service provider with Emerald River Cruises. I recommend avoiding cruises that include the Regensburg to Passau stretch of the Danube (there are now many that start at Passau and go downstream). There are plenty of river cruises, so I will not be using Emerald again. Although river levels are not their fault, how they handled the situation during the cruise and afterwards is their fault. A shame because I would have given the previous year's trip on the Rhine an excellent across the board. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
My husband and I just returned from a "cruise" from Nuremberg to Budapest on the Viking Var which began September 18, 2015. We were very disappointed as there was very little cruising done due to low water levels on the Danube. ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from a "cruise" from Nuremberg to Budapest on the Viking Var which began September 18, 2015. We were very disappointed as there was very little cruising done due to low water levels on the Danube. Instead, after docking in Regensberg, we were bussed from the ship to Passau and back permitting only a very short visit in Passau. Then the following day we were bussed to Melk and put on a very crowded local tour ship to visit the Danube Narrows. It was standing room only on the ship's deck. We were allowed only a 30 minute tour in Melk before being bussed to Linz where the ship Tor was docked for repairs. We embarked on Tor and sailed to Vienna. We were then loaded onto another bus for a day trip to Prague. Since we were scheduled for a post-trip in Prague, we asked Viking to arrange for us to remain in Prague rather than being bussed back to the ship and then bussed back to Prague the next day. They would not accommodate us. We had very little time in the cities we were scheduled to visit, not to mention the discomfort of long and cramped bus travel. For the short time we were actually on the ship, we enjoyed the food, cabin, and service. However, this just provided an even starker contrast with the unpleasant conditions experienced during the major part of the trip. We were very unhappy with Viking's customer service. We had contacted them before the cruise because we had heard of problems due to low water levels on the Danube. We had planned to postpone our trip if conditions were unstable. They assured us that there were no problems and agreed to notify us in advance if any deviations from the itinerary were expected. We later found out that passengers were being bussed to ports at the same time that Viking was assuring us there were no problems. We understand that unexpected events may occur while cruising, with a need to make adjustments. But Viking was well aware that not only were cruise disruptions possible, they were very likely to occur. Viking provided information to us at the last possible moment throughout the trip, claiming that every deviation in the itinerary was a complete surprise. Read Less

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