This was our first experience with cruising US inland waterways. The Puget Sound area was on our bucket list and we wisely opted not to try and cover it by auto. After looking over the ACL information with all the particulars about ... Read More
This was our first experience with cruising US inland waterways. The Puget Sound area was on our bucket list and we wisely opted not to try and cover it by auto. After looking over the ACL information with all the particulars about destinations, port's of call, sightseeing options and schedule options we decided to take a flyer. We were cautioned by our European river cruise travel agent not to expect the same quality of service as in Europe.
In fact we were pleasantly surprised with the generally first class service we received on the American Spirit. The staterooms were comfortable and more spacious than we had expected and everything worked. TV reception was marginal but we didn't care. The food and table service was simply exceptional. Some of us really appreciated the half portion entree option.
We (our party of eight) had a wonderful table server who attended to most of our meals by our choice. This was her first cruise but she performed like a seasoned professional. The evening cocktail hour was a nice bonus and gave us the opportunity to meet new people. We had a naturalist on board for most of the trip who provided several outstanding lectures on the history of the San Juan Islands in addition to teaching us much about the resident Orcas. Some of the after dinner entertainment was exceptional but none were poor. From the captain on down the ships crew was attentive, responsive and committed to making the cruise totally enjoyable. With one exception the on-shore excursion guides were well prepared and did a fine job communicating and highlighting important aspects of their particular tours. All-in-all it was a fine experience which we hope to repeat in the future. Read Less
We were already in Germany when we were notified that we could not cruise because of low water. Having traveled with Viking before we thought it would still be a wonderful trip, which it turned out to be. The Berlin Hilton was excellent, ... Read More
We were already in Germany when we were notified that we could not cruise because of low water. Having traveled with Viking before we thought it would still be a wonderful trip, which it turned out to be. The Berlin Hilton was excellent, First ship was the Astrild and the staff and the Chief were EXCELLENT, fantastic service and the room was very clean. The person I must commend was our Program Director Brenton Pieper, he was the BEST of ALL. He was always cheerful, had excellent tour guides assembled for our outings and programs on the ship as well. He made it a point to have lunch or dinner with the guests and we had interesting conversations. Well organized and keep us well informed as to what would be happening everyday, plus when we had to move from the Astrild to the Beyla. We saw so many things I cannot pick a favorite since everything we saw and heard was fantastic, aariving in Potsdam & being able walk part way across the Glienicke Bridge learning how spies were exchanged and visit Sanssouci Palance and hear facts about "Old Fritz" with his 11 dogs and seeing the graves of the 11 dogs and his finally together after many years. To learn about Martin Luther and Katherina. Emjoyed seeing the Cantileveres staircase in by Hartenfels Castle in Torgau. Loved touring the Meissen FactoryEnjoyed Dresden, (especially since my husbands father came from there) and seeing Kohnigstein Fortress it was truly impressive. My husband enjoyed the Saxon Switzerland: on the Elbe tour and last the tour of Prague, we took the three extension and really enjoyed all the sights and museums plus we went to a concert which was excellent. Glad we decided to go even learning of the low water, saw everything we would have seen cruising and the busses were modern, and clean and the drivers curtious. Thank you for a great trip Viking. Read Less
Great experience, floating hotel, really nice to just unpack once but still see all the different cities and countries. Lots of information, almost to the point of information overload. Food awesome. Nice to have all the shore ... Read More
Great experience, floating hotel, really nice to just unpack once but still see all the different cities and countries. Lots of information, almost to the point of information overload. Food awesome. Nice to have all the shore excursions included in the overall price. I've since learned that my favorite stop has been taken off the itinerary - Bratislavia. I would rather see one of the earlier cities eliminated and keep Bratislava on the itinerary. There were a couple of the Unesco city stops that were very similar and we feel that I one of them could have been skipped. We realize that they all have a history helping to make that part of Europe what it is today. Enjoyed the glass blowing demo, but would have been nice to see the town and shop other than on a Sunday when everything was closed. We would recommend this trip to anyone even with the smallness of the stateroom. No need to spend a lot of time in the stateroom as the lounges were very comfortable. We did find it odd that unlimited wine or beer was available during lunch or dinner but go to the lounge and you had to pay. Read Less
As promised my review of my floating hotel Michelangelo on the Venice Lagoon and River Po.
First I shall talk about fellow passengers. Being a French ship most passengers were from France with a large French speaking Belgian group from ... Read More
As promised my review of my floating hotel Michelangelo on the Venice Lagoon and River Po.
First I shall talk about fellow passengers. Being a French ship most passengers were from France with a large French speaking Belgian group from an organisation called Kwiani (hope I have the correct spelling). 6 Spanish speaking guests and the English speaking table consisting of 4 British and 2 Flemish speaking Belgians. French was the predominant language for announcements followed by English then Spanish. CroisiEurope do not have independent Cruise Directors but directly employed staff from Animation or entertainments as we know it perform this function. Sarah the senior of these came to the English and Spanish tables each night at dinner and went through the following days programme. Her English was very good and she was very helpful. Some of the French and Belgians spoke English and I was able to hold conversations including one in partial French with a lady who felt it unusual for such a young man to cruise on his own (I am 64)!
The ship had an age range from around 5 years to I suspect around 80 years. There were 6 children on board the oldest traveling with a younger brother and grandmother was 15. This was one of CroisiEuropes dedicated Kids Club cruises where a member of the Animation team ran the kids activities which gave parents/guardians the chance to go on excursions knowing their children would be safe on board.
The ships crew/hotel staff was a mix of French, Italian and Hungarians. The waiter/waitress staff are not allocated to tables and often would address us in French when first serving our table. Some did speak a fair amount of English and some had very little English. I do think they were getting worried for the trip following mine as only 10 French were on board the rest being English speakers. It does go to show how on these ships the crew do many jobs. I thought I had asked a deck hand a question before checking in. That night he had his full uniform on and was introduced as Chief Engineer.
Breakfast was the usual buffet with set meals for Lunch and Dinner. Menu was broadcast on the televison and if the meal was not suitable the chief would do his best to find an alternative. The chef was French so a good deal of French and Italian food was on offer. Sometimes it was a bit overpowering with a four course lunch and a four course dinner on the same day. As far as dressing for dinner then smart casual was the norm and on the gala night some chaps wore a tie about 6 wore suits and a few ladies were a little elegant.
Actual Cruising and Excursions
If you want a major river cruise this is not the trip for you. On the first night we cruised from one side of St. Marks Square to the other around 30 minutes. The following morning was a 2 hour cruise to Chioggia where all passengers had to disembark. There was and optional trip to Padua with a trip to SottoMarina for those not wishing to take this. The ship made its was to Cattelan Gas where we all re boarded. This section is at sea and we were told that for the past couple of years the Italian authorities will not allow either of the river boats to carry passengers over this section following the Costa Concordia disaster. During Dinner the ship cruised to Polesella which could not have been more than a couple of hours sorry I just cannot remember. Day 3 was a morning coach trip to Ferrara which was very nice. We had a tri-lingual guide and the Spanish and English speakers saw this town together. After lunch the choice was an excursion to Verona or stay on board while the ship sailed to Banchina Grandi when everyone was off again due to sailing at sea. We rejoined the ship at Chioggia again. 2 of the excursion coaches were delayed by a 3 car traffic accident getting back to the ship after the scheduled dinner time. However dinner was delayed but we only had 15 minutes from arrival to first course. Day 4 and we sailed back to Venice during breakfast in time for the optional excursion to the Doges Palace. That afternoon was free time in Venice and I took the opportunity to have a couple of hours sleep (first time I have ever done this on a cruising trip) as I was excursioned out! That night Uniworlds River Countess moored alongside and was there all of the following day. Day 5 was a boat excursion to the Islands of Murano and Burano. At Murano we were taken to a glass foundry and saw a demonstration of glass blowing. Of course this was followed by a visit to the shop. Burano was a very pretty island where one could relax or wander around at leisure. After lunch was free time and I wandered into St. Marks Square which took me about an hour at a very slow pace.
The Michelangelo is one the lines 2 cabin deck ships with a lounge and bar, restaurant and cabins on the upper deck and cabins only in steerage where I was. I had one of the two single cabins which was comfortable but compact but just right for me. Small double bed, desk, chair, T.V. and wardrobe space. Very small shower room with hand basin and w.c.
On the sun deck was a small inflatable pool, loungers and chairs around tables.
Certainly not a trip I could compare to any other being more excursion based rather than cruising based. However a great way to see Venice rather than being in a hotel. Even though I class myself as a Croisifile I do not think I would do this trip again. Next year I shall be looking towards one of their paddle boats if I can save up enough pennies.
Please feel free to ask any questions and I will do my best to answer. Read Less
This was a very good experience for our first river cruise. I like Viking's business model where you pay up front and don't have to worry about paying for tours, lunch and dinner beverages, and much of the tipping. The crew was ... Read More
This was a very good experience for our first river cruise. I like Viking's business model where you pay up front and don't have to worry about paying for tours, lunch and dinner beverages, and much of the tipping. The crew was pleasant and helpful and we really admired how they handled the Danusbe's low water complications without breaking a sweat. The excursions were worthwhile but, like I'm sure many people say, I wish there had been just a bit more time to shop for souveniers, etc. By the time we returned to the ship, I was usually too tired to go out again. My problem!! I thought Viking did a nice job getting people off and back on the ship each day.
The small number of people on the Aegir was most welcome and the open dining room was a nice way to get to meet new people throughout the journey.
One ctriticism. The ship sold a thumb drive with pictures from our trip for $20 or euro (can't remember). The photos were not good enough nor plentiful enough to be worth that price.
And how refreshing to be told that we were welcome to buy local wines and beers and bring them on board--no charge to open them for dinner. I didn't experience that on a big oceanliner! Most of the enrichment and entertainment brought on board were very interesting. The local guides were well informed and pleasant to speak with. Also enjoyed the Home Visit very much. Please consider including in the packet sent out before the trip a little nicer and more detailed map of our adventure. We will be back for more Viking pampering. Read Less
As usual, Viking arranged five star hotels and an excellent guide! Our hotel in Shanghai, The Fairmount Peace Hotel was beautiful and right across the street form the Bund, or River Walk. The ship was not as nice as the longship we cruised ... Read More
As usual, Viking arranged five star hotels and an excellent guide! Our hotel in Shanghai, The Fairmount Peace Hotel was beautiful and right across the street form the Bund, or River Walk. The ship was not as nice as the longship we cruised on in Holland, but it was clean and the staff was excellent. Our cabin was very roomy, and we enjoyed our verandah as we cruised down the Yangtze River.
Tibet was the most unusual place we have ever been! I loved the people dressed in traditional clothes.
The food in our hotels was great, but the restaurants we visited all seemed to serve the same food, and it was rather bland. I did like the Chinese hamburgers-pork loin on a steamed bun. I know the restaurant on the way to the Summer Palace was convenient, but the food was not good.
The Shanghai Acrobats were incredible, as was the show in Xian. The Terra Cotta Warriors were a highlight for me, and The Shangri-La Hotel in Xian was the nicest hotel I have stayed in. The Green Fish restaurant at the Ritz Carlton in Bejing was great.
The Three Gorges tour was beautiful.
The tour guide can make or break a trip, and our tour guide Richard was the very best! He looked after every member of our group of 32, and shared his heartfelt memories of growing up in China. He recapped the next day's plans each day and arranged our many flights, making it as easy as possible for us all. Read Less
I thoroughly enjoyed the Grand European River Cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam from August 20-September 4, 2015. It was very well-paced, the days were well planned without being crammed, and there were a few days on which we didn't ... Read More
I thoroughly enjoyed the Grand European River Cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam from August 20-September 4, 2015. It was very well-paced, the days were well planned without being crammed, and there were a few days on which we didn't have to be up early and could relax a little.
The places we visited were great - very picturesque, interesting towns and historic sites. I would have liked another day in Vienna and the surrounding area, maybe instead of Koblenz. I also understand Bratislava is being eliminated from this tour next year, which is very disappointing - my party all loved that city! I hope it's being incorporated into another cruise. The tours were all very good, the highlights for me being Nuremberg and the concert in Vienna. We had very good guides throughout with very fluent English-speaking skills, so they were easy to understand.
Although I liked Kinderdijk very much, I was disappointed we didn't have time in Amsterdam. Also, in a few stops, we had too little leisure time for exploring and shopping on our own.
The on-board entertainment and lectures were all excellent, and I especially liked the pianist and violinist from Cologne who performed, and the opera singers from Munich and Nuremberg. The lecture on the Netherlands dike system was also very interesting and informative.
One thing I particularly liked about Viking was that there was a representative at the airport at the end of our tour, not just at the beginning, who helped with our luggage and directed us to the proper airline desks for check-in. We weren't just dropped off and left to find our own way around the airport. Nice touch! Read Less
This was our first cruise and we were not sure what to expect. Our prior experiences were all inclusive ocean cruises with Silversea. Overall, the river cruise was fabulous and exceeded our expectations. Great experiences in most ports, ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we were not sure what to expect. Our prior experiences were all inclusive ocean cruises with Silversea. Overall, the river cruise was fabulous and exceeded our expectations. Great experiences in most ports, energetic staff and excellent cruise director (Barry) who found creative solutions to issues that arose and was always there with us, making sure everything went well. The Alsvin Longship was beautiful and we enjoyed our balcony room on the middle deck (200 level). The restaurant menu was different every night and all dishes were delicious and nicely presented by staff who did everything they could to please guests. Wine and beer included with lunch and dinner and they were generous. The chef was also fabulous and we enjoyed going with him to market for an excursion in one of the ports. The cruise itinerary was engaging and provided some interesting options that we enjoyed, such as the amazing concert in Vienna. We would have liked more time in Vienna, it is truly amazing! Less time in some ports might provide this extra time. We even think a day not in a port might be nice as you are always on the go for the shore excursions, but some people just skipped a tour which is worth considering, but we hated to miss anything. It turns out we were very lucky because we were able to stay on the same ship throughout the cruise, but many people on other cruise ships (Viking and others such as Uniworld) had to switch ships mid cruise due to low river conditions. Thanks to our very resourceful Ship Captain, we were able to make it through when other cruise ships did not! People we talked to in towns during excursions grumbled about being bused around and having to pack and unpack to switch ships. For us, the most disappointing thing on the river cruise ship was the limited lounge music genre. Only one person provided lounge entertainment and he provided 90% slow songs even when faster music was requested by numerous guests. The entertainment that was brought on for some evenings (opera singing, cultural music, etc) from local entertainers was outstanding however. All in all, it was a fabulous experience and we look forward to another cruise, but will consider a different time of year to avoid the low river conditions in late August, early September. Read Less
We arrived late in the day at the Doubletree Hotel in St Paul and the AQ Desk was closed. We went up to our room which was more than adequate for an overnight stop and then went into the restaurant for a meal. I use the word restaurant ... Read More
We arrived late in the day at the Doubletree Hotel in St Paul and the AQ Desk was closed. We went up to our room which was more than adequate for an overnight stop and then went into the restaurant for a meal. I use the word restaurant with reservations. It was noisy with 'locals' performing Karaoke and we were surrounded by arcade games, definitely not the sort of place we would normally frequent, or expect to find in a hotel.
Sunday was a farce because unless you chose to pay to go on the excursion around St Paul you were left to hang around the hotel for hours waiting for 3pm when we were to board the boat. The hotel reception and all other available seating which was a bit sparse looked like the waiting room of a hospital outpatients.
After having to trundle our carry on luggage down a steep slope to the boat we were ushered into the lifts to our deck where upon we found our lovely stateroom, immaculately clean and very well appointed although on first sight it doesn't look that way. As our stay in America was to be much longer than the cruise we had quite a bit more luggage than we would have had for just the cruise but we found ample space for its storage (all out of the cases) and with space to spare.
The bathroom was small (well what do you expect on such a vessel) but very well appointed and with nice toiletries and two lovely dressing gowns.
There were double doors which opened directly onto the deck and a table and couple of chairs to sit out at our leisure.
After unpacking we went of to explore the boat and get our bearings. What a magnificent and opulent boat she is. So 1800s and beautifully maintained and spotless.
The JM Dining room was equally opulent and the food served exceptional and we were waited on by the most delectable young lady who attended to our every need.
The entertainment was a disappointment since this was supposed to be a 50s/60s Themed Cruise but for the most part we heard nothing but Jazz and even music written in different styles was jazzed up by the piano player in the Captains Bar, who incidentally was so far up himself you couldn't speak to him. He just ignored us when asked if he could play something not jazzed up.
We didn't use the pool either, as apart from the rest of the boat, we found the Sun Deck quite dirty and neglected. The pool was cloudy and had 'things' floating in it, not very inviting.
There were two types of excursion provided, the usual organised type where you book and pay extra for a dedicated location or activity and which we have found in the past usually more expensive than they are worth. However none of them either appealed to us or were out of our do-able category. We therefore chose the second type, that of a Free Hop On, Hop Off Bus around each of the locations where the Boat visited. We found this to be really handy as we could go the full route making notes of where we would like to visit and then Hop off when we reached them on a subsequent circuit hopping back on to visit the next choice. These buses carried a dedicated tour guide who resided in each of the locations and who were very well informed about their respective towns.
Disembarkation was a farce as not being very mobile we had to negotiate the steep slope again only this time upwards, it was only when I were half way up I was offered assistance, which was not previously offered otherwise I would have taken it, being at the point of no return I soldiered on to the waiting queue of taxis (the AQ wanted $25 per person to go by their coach to the airport,having to sit on it until it was full, but it only cost us $40 to go by private taxi, not have to wait, and a much better ride)
We would have given an excellent rating, but the Sun Deck and lack of Themed Music let you down.
All in all we had a lovely time and were looked after incredibly well throughout our cruise by a most wonderful crew. Read Less
This was our first experience of river cruising after numerous sea cruises and we were not disappointed. The Emerald Dawn was a new ship having been lanched in April 2016. Arrangements for the pick up in Budapest were a little hectic but I ... Read More
This was our first experience of river cruising after numerous sea cruises and we were not disappointed. The Emerald Dawn was a new ship having been lanched in April 2016. Arrangements for the pick up in Budapest were a little hectic but I think this was mainly the fault of the airport organisation rather than the Emerald staff.
Our cabin was 329 and although smaller than those we were used to on sea cruises it was very acceptable and the bed very comfortable. The facility of the large window lowering to create a balcony effect was not used since the weathre was very hot and the air conditioning stopped if the window was opened. My wife used the pool and found it pleasant and it seemed to be a popular facility.
The excursons were well organised and interesting. We opted for three of the optional excursions and felt they were good value for money.
The restaurant offered a good selection and menus were varied and enjoyable. Complimentary beer, wine, and soft drinks were available at lunch and dinner and the quality was excellent.
Provide we can find the right cruise at the right time we will certainly repeat the experience. Read Less
3 years ago we did Budapest to Amsterdam and enjoyed, this year we did the reverse and would recommend doing our first option.
The hotel and cruise director great.
The Opal is a new ship and very nice. The only fault we had was at ... Read More
3 years ago we did Budapest to Amsterdam and enjoyed, this year we did the reverse and would recommend doing our first option.
The hotel and cruise director great.
The Opal is a new ship and very nice. The only fault we had was at the buffet, breakfast and lunch, the food was not hot or warm.
The meat was still red and we would have preferred it to be At least pink when cooked.
Leaving from Amsterdam, we felt that the excursions were rushed as it was afternoons and the ship had to sail.
This is our personal opinion. The trip was fantastic all in all. Read Less
This was our first cruise with Vantage, having cruised three times with Viking. Overall we found Vantage to be comparable to Viking with a few significant differences. First, the obvious, wine, beer, and soft drinks are complimentary at ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Vantage, having cruised three times with Viking. Overall we found Vantage to be comparable to Viking with a few significant differences. First, the obvious, wine, beer, and soft drinks are complimentary at lunch and dinner with Viking, while they are only free at dinner with Vantage. We also felt that Vantage caters to an older demographic than Viking—just our observation. Entertainment was better on Viking. The River Navigator has done away with the lounge keyboard player and replaced him/her with a juke box.
This is the last year for the River Navigator, but the ship has been well maintained, and we had no complaints about the condition of the ship. We liked the smaller size (134 passengers max).
The meals were on a par with Viking’s food. Taste, temperature, and presentation were all good, and service was generally good. It was somewhat frustrating that Vantage allowed large groups (6-14 people) to reserve the best tables for the ENTIRE cruise. Reserving the tables for a few nights would have been OK, or moving the groups around so that everyone had a chance to eat in the prime spots would have been a better way to handle this.
On some of the tours, Vantage tried to offer little extras. Amsterdam included a guided tour of the Rijksmuseum, and we boarded boats for our canal tour there and the tour ended close to the Navigator’s docking site. At the Reichsburg in Cochem we were greeted by the “lord of the manor” and given a glass of wine. On the other hand, when we booked a year ahead of time our optional tour of Luxembourg was supposed to include either a box lunch or Euros for lunch, but when we sailed, the policy had changed and we had to buy our own lunch (in addition to the $69 we spent for the optional tour). Also, it seemed like none of the tours ever ran on time. This may have been the fault of us passengers.
We chose this cruise for the itinerary (Rhine and Moselle) and loved the route, but we were disappointed in how Vantage arranged it. We docked at the tiny town of Schweich for the optional tour to Luxembourg. Schweich is only 15 km (9 miles) from Trier. Instead of staying there and having a very brief bus ride to Trier for our tour there, the Navigator left Schweich and cruised downriver to Zell—70 km from Trier. The next day we toured Bernkastel and stayed another night in Zell and then had an hour and a half bus ride back to Trier for our tour there. Why not spend the night in Schweich and do our Trier tour from there with a 30 minute bus ride? It was almost as if Vantage didn’t have a map.
Also, after reentering the Rhine at Koblenz, the Navigator stopped at Boppard—a town with very little to do or see—and spent most of the day there. If they’d stopped about 2 miles earlier at Braubach, we could have done a tour of the beautiful Marksburg castle.
So we had a good time on the cruise. It compared well with our previous Viking tours, but we felt that the Vantage cruise could have been better planned and executed. Read Less
We joined the Jasper from spending 3 nights pre-cruise in Prague, which was a beautiful city and the Marriott was quite nice and perfectly located in old town area. Didn't depart our hotel on a 4 hour bus ride to our ship docked in ... Read More
We joined the Jasper from spending 3 nights pre-cruise in Prague, which was a beautiful city and the Marriott was quite nice and perfectly located in old town area. Didn't depart our hotel on a 4 hour bus ride to our ship docked in Passau/Vilshofen, and would have been nicer for either an earlier departure or shorter ride.
All aspects of this cruise were very good, with service, public areas, and cabins being considered to be top-notch. A beautiful and new ship, with a crew who are really doing their best to make it a 5-star experience. The food was quite good, with plentiful quantities and well-prepared. The breakfast and lunch buffets were outstanding every day--some of the best we have had. The dinners started out a bit below par for the Scenic objective of being a premier cruise line, but got consistently better each evening. They could improve by having a more varied menu and a few more local selections from the areas we visited.
Our cabin steward and butler were totally awesome and consistently went over-and-above in providing exceptional service. Our captain did an outstanding job navigating the low water levels in the Danube, but really didn't see much of him or the hotel manager other than leaving/returning to ship each day after our shore excursions. Would have been nice to see them a bit more as they were quite friendly.
Our cruise director did a good job in spite of a few curves thrown at him by some of the ships local tour guides- which he seemed to handle very well. He was quite personable and took care of all of our minor issues, but he appeared a bit overworked and could have used some help from some of the many talented and energetic ship's staff, possibly Scenic needs to create a "trainee CD" program like we saw on our prior cruises with Uniworld, to help assist in herding the flock while ashore. The shore excursions were considered "very good" to "excellent" and will only get better as this new ship and staff get more familiar with the local stops and local guides.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable cruise and we would love to try Scenic again in the future. Next time we'll cruise in spring or fall as it was blazing hot each day which had a little bit of an impact on our overall enjoyment of shore excursions and on-deck time. Read Less
I have never done a river cruise before and have only ever done an ocean cruise back in 1969. I usually do escorted coach tours when I travel to Europe and my husband hasn't travelled overseas since we married back in 1971.
We ... Read More
I have never done a river cruise before and have only ever done an ocean cruise back in 1969. I usually do escorted coach tours when I travel to Europe and my husband hasn't travelled overseas since we married back in 1971.
We arrived in Zurich a day ahead of the cruise departure and that was a good thing, as my husbands luggage didn't arrive when we did. No one was waiting for us by the time we eventually got to the arrivals hall but after contacting the local Scenic number, our private transfer driver came back to the airport and delivered us to the Zurich hotel. Thankfully the luggage arrived the following morning, so all was okay when we were picked up and taken to the ship, which departed from Basel.
Arrival and embarkation was slick. Our cabin was fabulous but that was my husbands choice, not mine. I would have been happy with a Balcony suite or even just a state room, as there were plenty of community areas for seeing both sides of the river and I'm a more social person than my husband is.
Our cabin included all laundry plus a €197 credit to be spent in the wellness area and I managed to spend most of the credit. Shampoo and blow-dry x 3 @ €34.00 and a massage €79.00. The royal cabins received 3 snacks/bites each afternoon/evening. I think Scenic should cut that back to 2. It was nice receiving a snack/bite mid afternoon but I found the pre dinner one just a tad too much. The after dinner bite was nice though.
Our cabin attendant was lovely, although I wished that she would adhere to the sign in the bathroom saying that if you didn't want your towels changed, hang them a certain way. No matter how I hanged them, we always had clean towels after showering. Our cabin was serviced twice a day. Near the end of our tour, I would refold my towel and hang it as if it was unused and it wasn't changed. Victory for me. Our butler was lovely but in reality we never used his services apart from one evening when we decided to have room service. All drinks are included with Scenic. The only drinks my husband had from our bar fridge was coke and I would have a wine every few days. Unless you have a drinking problem, the included alcohol isn't necessary. IMHO.
The staff were friendly/fabulous and their service was excellent and I enjoyed the delicious HOT omelette that Bravo cooked for me every morning for breakfast.
After the first couple of days, hubby & I decided that the lunch meals in the restaurant were too heavy (unappetising) and we would then have lunch at the River Cafe. The prawn pizza I had one day there, was yummy. The cold meal choices, not so crash hot but the soups and a few of the other hot meals were good.
The meals were a disappointment to me, especially the dinner ones. The vegetables were often overcooked and, unfortunately, the majority of the meals, luke warm. Loved my breakfast omelette though.
Their lunch time BBQ needs a bit of a rethink, though the idea was good.
The included excursions on offer were great and if you couldn't find something to suit you, you could always stay onboard.
The Irish Coffees are potent. I decided to have one when in the lounge one afternoon, when doing the crossword puzzle. Took me about half an hour to sip that and I wasn't game to have another.
Local news/papers are available every day. i.e. highlights from your country. Canada, Australia, USA and UK plus a paper with a crossword puzzle on one side and a Sudoka on the other.
Overall I loved this tour BUT for me personally, river cruises are not my thing. I don't plan on doing another one in the near future.
If money was not a consideration, my rating might be different. I didn't pay for this holiday, my husband did but I have rated some things from my income perspective. Read Less
I want to say upfront I did like it, but it was really not for my age group. I went with a family member who really wanted to go and not be alone. I personally prefer to have a private guide an/or see places on my own. That being said, ... Read More
I want to say upfront I did like it, but it was really not for my age group. I went with a family member who really wanted to go and not be alone. I personally prefer to have a private guide an/or see places on my own. That being said, there is no way we could have seen all of these places in 8 days!
Overall Viking is VERY well run! Most are upper 50's- 80 years old. They really cater to this age group with food and tours. The food is good. This Viking River Cruise was only about 200 people on the cruise, I don't even think that many. At meals it's open seating at 6 and 8 people per table. This is where you chat with others. Mostly Americans, but a good handful of Brits. It's nice hearing about where everyone is from. It was interesting to hear everyones stories and participate in different types of conversation, then maybe one would with friends.
Each morning you woke up to go to breakfast by 7:30/8 because by 8:30 and sometimes, if we were lucky, by 9, we had to meet in the lobby to leave the ship for our morning city tour. Each city tour had a local guide. There were 4-5 busses to take you into the city and each bus had their own local guide. We never had a bad guide. Others told us they sometimes didn’t like their guide. We always tipped our bus driver and guide because they work so hard and were always full of information and wonderful stories. A shame we couldn’t hear more in some of the cities. We usually got free time to look at the shops. Mostly tourisy junk, but in some cities there were up market shops ie: Zara, Hugo Boss and other great shops to look at. The free time was always rushed. Some people opted to go shopping when we were in a better shopping city, but then they missed the rich history. One had to give and take I guess. And that is where I was a bit frustrated. Sometimes free time was only an hour and a half, which seems long but by the time you go into the shop look around and choose, you may have time for 1 more shop. The free time is clearly for the tourist shops where there is not a whole lot of thinking.
There are optional tours that you pay extra for. This usually was instead of free time, but some were in the evening. Most are great with more in depth history in an area. One to avoid, the Figaro's Wedding one. They made it seem that we were going to an opera, but it was a Viking only opera in an old building with amateur actors. We tossed it up to a night out. But it was an extra and not cheep. 90 Euros.
The best lunch we had was a day we left the tour early. There was a church organ concert that we didn’t want to hear so we left the city tour when we got to the church and went to lunch in the city. We found this local place near the Inn River in Passau, Germany. The hostess couldn’t do enough for us. She got us an english menu, sat us outside and made sure we had a view of the river. She checked in on us. She was just over and above with service. AND this was a little local nothing type of place. Not fancy at all. I got a veal schnitzel and Cynthia got a burger. It was all local business men and a few from the younger 20-ish age group. We really were the only tourists. It was relaxing and great. We had the extra time because we didn’t go to the organ concert. Then after lunch we went to see the shops which were all over the nooks and crannies of this town on cobblestone streets.
Some late afternoons when we were cruising, we sat in the 3rd floor lounge. We had tea and cookies and enjoyed watching, as we went by the little towns. Each town had a church and cute little houses.
A side note, about midway we had to switch ships. Viking makes it seem like they are shocked this is happening, but they are very aware that the water level is low and the shop cannot possibly get through certain parts of the river. I will say the moving was (again) well organized, Viking needs to come clean. I assume they feel people wouldn't come or back out of the trip knowing this. It was a burden to pack up again and then unpack. Most I spoke to only unpacked a few items on the 2nd ship. We had 3 or 4 days left, so thats what we took out.
Another note: this ship the service was AMAZING. The housekeeping staff kept the rooms clean and were very efficient with making sure you has over and above on sofa and shampoos etc... The Kitchen staff was superb. They ran the dinning room very well and while I didn't have any special requests, other we sat with did and the staff made sure to bring it to them quickly. The front desk staff was also friendly even with all of the "older" people and their constant questions and worries. This made me laugh, but the staff was VERY professional! On our new ship the Viking Tor, not so much. There was a clear difference in service and we all talked about it.
An FYI our program director and concierge came with us to the next ship, but not the other staff. Our PD and concierge were fabulous! Nicole (our PD) was very professional and ran the days and night very well. We all looked forward to her "Guten Morgen my dear ladies and gentlemen" each day.
So great trip and for the right age group I highly recommend it! Read Less
We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise on the Seine. Although the Neptune is an older ship which has to show its age and without the "flash" of newer vessels -- we had traveled on a sister ship four years ago so we new what to expect. ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise on the Seine. Although the Neptune is an older ship which has to show its age and without the "flash" of newer vessels -- we had traveled on a sister ship four years ago so we new what to expect. However, in some ways, I liked the smaller size of the Neptune. The public areas easily accommodated the passengers without crowding. There were more smaller, round dining tables that facilitated conversations compared with the long, rectangular tables on some of the newer, large ships. Some of the reviews complained about delays in dining service. I am amazed at those comments -- we had lovely meals with never a problem of delays, and we never noticed anyone else having difficulties.
The tour itself was great. All the stops along the Seine were interesting, including Monet's house and garden at Giverny, Rouen and, of course, the day excursion to the D-Day beaches in Normandy. Of note, there were very few optional excursions at an additional cost -- the standard tours were all you needed.
Of special note, we greatly enjoyed our program director Lionel. He was informative while being very entertaining by injecting his great sense of humor into a pleasurable trip. Read Less
To begin last year there was a drought on the danube and you could not start where you were suppose to. The cruise never told us until the day it left prague. I wish someone had told me not to go out every day and rush around and stay on ... Read More
To begin last year there was a drought on the danube and you could not start where you were suppose to. The cruise never told us until the day it left prague. I wish someone had told me not to go out every day and rush around and stay on the boat one day and crusie down, or you dont get to see any beautiful countryside cause at nite its dark when the boat was moving. The nites they had special dinners the food was great , the other nites it was good. Lunches looked great but you were off the boat everyday site seeing.
I would not pay extra for balcony cause you are at dock level and dont see anything or you go up to the top deck at nite and there is where the view is. Entertainment is fair you are not going on a river cruise for the entertainment. The electric bikes were great but everyone was in a hurry , and they needed to divide the groups up more. Scenic is one of the better ships cause everything is included. It is much different than a big cruise ship. Just remember to relax. Read Less
Have just completed our second Scenic river cruise having booked this one after completing our first on the Scenic Jewell 2 years ago. The transfers and embarkation were of the usual Scenic high standards as was the quality of the ship and ... Read More
Have just completed our second Scenic river cruise having booked this one after completing our first on the Scenic Jewell 2 years ago. The transfers and embarkation were of the usual Scenic high standards as was the quality of the ship and its crew. The pace of the Amsterdam to Basle cruise was more relaxed than our previous Amsterdam to Budapest trip. This cruise had a high percentage of repeat passengers and this was evident in the passengers choice of excursions with some electing to stay on board and just enjoy cruising on the river. The variety of excursions was excellent as was the quality of the local guides. The one exception was a concert performance in the Palace of Rastatt. No air-conditioning and 33 degrees made for a very uncomfortable evening. Our big disappointment was the food on this trip, our previous Scenic experience was so good it influenced our decision to book this trip. The breakfast buffet was excellent as previously remembered as was the lunch buffet. However, what happened to all the small lunch choices we remember in the River Café (hamburgers, fish and chips etc). Often the choice of dishes had a very Asian influence which was not our taste. The dinner menu in the Crystal Dining Room was a strange mixture of dishes with little local influence and a lack of compatability between courses. Dishes were often overcooked, especially the seafood.(tough lobster and wilted snow peas). On several occasions we resorted to the back-up menu of steak and chips or hamburgers from room service. We were really looking forward to the "highlight" top-deck barbecue after our previous experience but were sadly disappointed when the meat was not barbecued but prepared in the kitchen and served from hot dishes. (Another buffet!) The best meal we had on the cruise was an evening excursion to a restaurant in a Dutch village where where well prepared local dishes were served. As with our previous trip, getting a second or subsequent glass of wine at dinner can be a challenge with most of the passengers dining at the same time which stretches the waiting staff.
Overall, the boat, crew and excursions were 5 star but the dining experience 3 star at best. Disappointing when you paid for 5 star across the board. The change from an eastern European kitchen staff to an Asian one may explain the difference in the meals. Read Less
The Hermod is only a year old and is in beautiful condition and very well maintained by the staff. It is simply gorgeous. The public areas are very well appointed. The dining room suffers from a low, hard ceiling and is very noisy. It ... Read More
The Hermod is only a year old and is in beautiful condition and very well maintained by the staff. It is simply gorgeous. The public areas are very well appointed. The dining room suffers from a low, hard ceiling and is very noisy. It really needs sound baffles. You have to shout to carry on conversations. The service was very slow--only 10 servers for 184 passengers. Ten minutes to get a glass of iced water. The "gourmet" food was well prepared but I prefer the simpler fare of the Viking Pride. The servers waited on all the tables so you never got acquainted with just one for your table with him/her knowing your preferences.
The entertainment was mostly the pianist in the bar. He was very good, could play just about anything. The servers were attentive. The drinks expensive: $3.25 for a Coke in the bar. This was offset by free nuts, pretzels, etc. Meals had unlimited free French wine, one red, one white. Too acidic for me, I prefer a Pinot Gregio type which they served only once. The shore excursions varied by difficulty and were all interesting, several offered at each stop, but with the heat wave (95 F) exhausting for me. The best night was the last: we were entertained by an accordionist on the Sundeck, in twilight, next to the Avignon bridge. Spectacular. This was my 3rd Viking river cruise. They were all very good, but the Hermod suffers from a staff that isn't very intimate with the passengers. I was told the staff rotates frequently and their emotional remoteness shows. Read Less
Slightly nervous because the ship is French and the vast majority of passengers are French.
The Douro river is wonderful.
The ship spent 3 night in Porto which was too long and passengers wanted to cruise...the joke was it was a ... Read More
Slightly nervous because the ship is French and the vast majority of passengers are French.
The Douro river is wonderful.
The ship spent 3 night in Porto which was too long and passengers wanted to cruise...the joke was it was a cruise that did not cruise,cruise.
We were put on an English speaking table of 8 people which saved the day.
Croisieurope are trying to break into the English speaking clients around the world and they tried hard to keep us informed.
The ship is brand new and very light and airy with bright colors.
Cabin on the top deck was also bright with it's floor to ceiling windows.
The beds faced outwards which was a nice touch( laying in bed with moving scenery).
The cabins are small.
One sitting at all meals on an assigned table.
Food was adequate and not French cuisine as described and how you might expect.
Some poor meals and generally lunch was better with 4 courses and 3 courses at diner...strange.
"all inclusive"drinks apart from some wines, Champagne and fresh Orange juice...weird.
Entertainment below average.
Excursions ( extra price) were good and well organised.
What was wrong:-
tiny sink in bathroom, which was next to the toilet roll holder...result wet toilet paper.
(Designed by an idiot).
No tissues in room.
Telephone did not work( reported but ignored).
No orange juice at breakfast ( unless you paid).
Occasional "egg station" at breakfast..why not every day?
2 bad dinners where the food was almost inedible, perhaps the chef was having a day off?
All in all we had a good time and would recommend but ignore their own 5* rating it is no better than 4*. Read Less
My husband and I are veteran ocean cruisers, but this was our first time on a river. There were many differences, most of them wonderful--in fact, we enjoyed our Amadolce experience so much, we were reluctant to turn in our keys! The ... Read More
My husband and I are veteran ocean cruisers, but this was our first time on a river. There were many differences, most of them wonderful--in fact, we enjoyed our Amadolce experience so much, we were reluctant to turn in our keys! The reception upon arrival was overwhelmingly friendly with a personal escort to our room. No time consuming stops to check in and pull out our credit cards for the drink packages and heavy sell spa services. Our luggage arrived in minutes instead of hours, and we were immediately free to explore the boat, which to our amusement, took about 15 minutes. After all of the 140 or so passengers came aboard, there was an entertaining safety talk and general orientation from the captain and cruise manager and soon we were sailing down the Danube with the beautiful lights of Budapest reflected in our wake.
We enjoyed our first dinner aboard that evening as well as all of the food offerings on the cruise but I do have one and only criticism that prevented me from giving the experience a full five stars. I have a blood sugar issue and I did mention it in advance during the online check in well before the sail date. I requested sugar free desserts, all available in variety and abundance on ocean ship lines. I was disappointed in that regard on this cruise, mostly contenting myself with one flavor of SF ice cream and a few small mousse treats. Adding some SF cookies to the afternoon tea or some SF puddings or pastries would be an easy thing to do, and not terribly expensive, especially since people in my situation also limit or refrain from wine and other alcohol.
The ports visited on this cruise were a good mix of large cities and smaller towns. After living in Europe for two years, my husband and I have developed an appreciation for the latter with their slower pace and quirky monuments. The excursions were all wonderful and handled well with an amazing ease of selection. We especially liked choosing between the active, regular and slow paced groups. The limited option tours were perfect and worth the cost, especially the Mozart/Strauss concert and Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, and the day trip to Salzburg. The guides all knew their stuff and were enthusiastic about their particular city. They did a great job of describing the history and culture in each area and their stories entertained us and inspired our imaginations.
Unlike our ocean cruise experiences where 2000 or more people wandered the ship in anonymity, the much smaller group on the Amadolce gave us the chance to see the same friendly faces each day and and get to know them a little. The same was true for the ship's crew, all of whom had a kind word or smile to offer. The very much loved Cruise Manager became ill halfway through the trip and was temporarily replaced by another very enthusiastic, professional woman who, with the support of the crew, did a seamless job of serving the passengers.
My husband and I tended to wander back to our cabin after dinner on most evenings, so we didn't participate in a lot of the lounge entertainment. It was plentiful though with a skilled musician on board and acts from local areas invited in. We enjoyed an all too brief performance by Lindsay Hamilton, a former London West End actress and singer who amazed us with her talent.
As a physical structure, the boat was exquisitely cared for and maintained. This became even more evident to us as we were among the few remaining passengers on board while awaiting our transfer to the airport at the end of the trip. We saw every surface of the cabins cleaned, including the air duct screens, the upholstery on every piece of public area furniture was brushed and vacuumed and the windows were all shined and polished. Fresh flower arrangements arrived and were decoratively placed and new potted herbs were unpacked and taken to the kitchen. A tempting tray of sandwiches for the new passengers appeared on the long buffet table, and it was all we could do to resist the urge to rush to the front desk and beg to have our cabin back and continue on down the river. This cruise is worth a repeat. Read Less
Vantage Cruise from Constantina to Bonn:
On the plus side of things, it was all it was billed to be and everything was as promised. Th shore excursions were generally quite good and the tour director did her best ot accommodate ... Read More
Vantage Cruise from Constantina to Bonn:
On the plus side of things, it was all it was billed to be and everything was as promised. Th shore excursions were generally quite good and the tour director did her best ot accommodate everyone's needs and wants. We appreciated that wine and beer were included with dinner (provided you could flag down the over-worked wait staff) and the quality was better than we expected.
We appreciated the transfer to and from services and found the extra help crucial to navigating the Amsterdam airport.
The staff were always courteous and helpful. Rooms, hallways, and public areas, were always tidy.
On the minus side of things, it came as a surprise how much the "recommended" tipping would be at the end of the trip. It added up to a pretty hefty sum. When we cruised on Aegean Odyssey, those costs were all included. Of course, they earned the gratuity but we would have preferred it be included (not tucked on at the end). It was no small amount!
The rooms were small (and we had French balcony room with a small table with 2 chairs, so it was not like one of the smaller rooms down below) and the bathrooms posed a real challenge. Neither of us are large people but the shower stall was the size of a coffin; turn around and you "adjust" the water temperature inadvertently!
Meals ... at first we thought how great it was to get all our meals provided and then boredom set in. It was totally predictable and all we could think about was getting off the boat and doing exploring on our own to find some different food. There is only one dining facility on board and seating is at tables for 4 (limited number), 6 (most are in this range), or larger tables which seem to have someone who rushes in and declares that this table is "theirs!" On our cruise, we had one such lady who organized her own "parties" for the entire tour. Yeah, just like in grade school, right? The "popular" table was by invitation only. Ho hum. So glad I was not invited.
We found that Vantage appeals to an older set of travelers, many with mobility issues, and this did impact our tour arrangements in a negative way. Many things had to be adjusted to fit the needs of everyone.
Fortunately, the weather was very nice most of the time we cruised so we would spend a lot of time outside on the upper deck, admiring the stars and visiting with co-travelers after dinner. Sometimes a dance group would come in and put on a dance show and sometimes the staff did their best to entertain us with shows of their own.
In the final analysis:
Comparing this to the small cruise ship Aegean Odyssey, we hated to see that trip end and, with this trip on Vantage's River Navigator, we were so ready for a land trip in Amsterdam.
This was a trip we wanted to cross off of our "bucket list" and there really are no regrets. We have great memories and appreciated seeing all the things we did see. The River Navigator is not a new ship (it will be retired from Vantage's boats this year) but we never felt it was shabby. Read Less
We met the American Empress in Clarkston WA, so we flew into Spokane WA and stayed at the luxurious Davenport Hotel in Spokane. American Queen Steamboat Co pays for your stay at the Davenport, including a great breakfast buffet the next ... Read More
We met the American Empress in Clarkston WA, so we flew into Spokane WA and stayed at the luxurious Davenport Hotel in Spokane. American Queen Steamboat Co pays for your stay at the Davenport, including a great breakfast buffet the next morning. Cruise check in is at the hotel, and the following day you are placed on a two hour bus ride to Clarkston WA to meet the boat. No toilets on the bus, so make sure you use the bathroom at the Davenport. There is no WiFi on the bus, despite a sign that says there is. It would be nice if the driver had explained some of the sights we were seeing along the way. There is no charge for the bus ride to Clarkston, WA, but the company makes up for it by charging you $25/person for a ten minute ride to the Portland airport, when you disembark. Your luggage is waiting for you in your cabin, and embarkation was quick and easy.
Do not take the Davenport van from the airport for $25. You can take a taxi for less than $18. I used Advanced Taxi, and the service was great. The fare from the Spokane airport to the Davenport was $17.86 and I let the driver keep the change from a $20 bill, which he appreciated. He loaded and unloaded our luggage for us.
I requested early seating for dinner, when I made my cruise reservations. Seating is open, and there are two venues for dining, the Astoria dining room and the River Grill. River Grill requires reservations for the evening meal. The Astoria serves three meals a day, with waiter service. The River Grill is buffet style for breakfast and lunch but waiter service only for the evening meal. Food is always plentiful at the River Grill, and you can go there for light snacks between meals. I just wish the River Grill had provided sandwiches, particularly ingredients for sandwiches, but there was plenty of other choices. The morning omelettes are lacking and would better be described as scrambled eggs mixed with vegetables. No problem though, there were many other food choices for breakfast.
There are no provisions for children or teenagers on the Empress. Do not bring young people or children with you. There is nothing for them to do, and they will be completely bored. This is a cruise intended for adults only. Moreover, the vast majority of cruisers are senior citizens.
Nightly shows are 45 minutes long, put on by the husband-wife cruise directors, Greg and Lindy. The shows are pretty good and entertaining. More entertainment is available in the Paddle Wheel lounge, put on by Frank, who is very talented. Beware of the "seat savers" for the evening show. I wish the company would not allow people to do this, because there is precious little seating anyway in the show lounge. If you happen to be on a cruise that is full, with 240 passengers, seating in the show lounge will not be adequate. We had 160 on our cruise, and some facilities, such as the show lounge, were nearing capacity.
I found the much touted riverlorian to be a complete bore. I listened to her for about five minutes and never returned again to one of her boring "lectures." This is a shame, because if the right person had this job, more passengers would be interested.
Overall, the crew is very friendly and very customer oriented. I had only three minor problems with crew members. The grill man in the River Grill messed up my order one morning, not a big deal. One of the female food service staff members was somewhat rude and impatient with passengers. I mentioned this to her boss, and I noticed the server made a feeble attempt to clean up her act. Please note, the rest of the food service staff was outstanding and always went the extra mile to please us. One of the deck crew was clueless, when I asked him what time we were required to be back on board. He was also clueless, when I asked him what the boat's telephone number was, in case I needed it. This same crew member also lacked courtesy and tact, when he informed passengers they were not permitted in certain areas of the boat. Again, a brief private conversation with his boss seemed to rectify this particular crew member's attitude.
Internet service is poor to never being available. The WiFi signal is strongest in the Paddle Wheel lounge. There are four desktops available in the Paddle Wheel lounge, but again, the internet connection is very slow to not being in service at all. They really need to upgrade their internet capability. Cell phone service was available at all times, except for one brief part of the cruise outside Richland WA. Also, the much touted American Queen app for you smartphone or iPhone does not work. I questioned this and was told the bus drivers were not trained on how to use the app. So, my question is, why do they even advertise the app being available for the Hop On Hop Off tours?
Speaking of shore excursions, the Hop On Hop Off tours are mediocre, at best. The service works pretty good, and buses come by every 15 to 30 minutes or every hour in the afternoon. It is obvious that the company would rather you spend money on the expensive optional shore excursions. In all fairness, we enjoyed speaking with all the local people we met on the Hop On Hop Off tours. However, the places you visit are nothing to brag about. We took the optional Vista House Old National Highway tour for $49/person, and it was probably worth the money, even though we could not stop at all the falls, due to overcrowding with tourists.
Disembarkation made for a very long day. Bags had to be out in the passageway by 11 PM the night before, and all passengers had to be off the boat by 7:45 AM the next morning. The $25/person bus ride to the airport took ten minutes.
You are charged $16.50 per day per passenger for gratuities, and the charges will appear on your final bill. You are free to raise or lower this amount. Also, the purser will provide you with tip envelopes, if you want to give an individual crew member an additional tip. I did not see any need to give a special tip to any particular crew member.
We had cabin 204, and it was very small but very adequate. Housekeeping did an outstanding job of cleaning and keeping the cabin stocked. The shower is so tiny that you can hardly turn around in it. It is impossible for two people to occupy the bathroom at the same time. The bed was very comfortable, and there were adequate drawers to store and hang our stuff. There is a tiny room safe for valuables. A small flat screen TV worked perfectly, and I loved the bow camera view on TV. A small refir keeps your bottled water cold, and housekeeping will supply you with all the free bottled water you want. There is a real nice coffee maker in the room too. The cabin was very clean. The HVAC worked perfectly.
When in port, do take the pilot house and engine room tours.
Overall, we enjoyed ourselves and felt as though we got our money's worth.
A final note worth repeating, do not take children or teenagers on this cruise. There is absolutely nothing of interest for them, and to be honest, I was quite glad there were no kids, because they would have been totally bored, particularly because their electronic toys will not work. Read Less
We have recently returned from the Jewels of Russia River Cruise starting in Moscow and finishing in St Petersburg which has been great. We were met at the Airport and taken by Coach to the Ship Tsar where we were welcomed on board. The ... Read More
We have recently returned from the Jewels of Russia River Cruise starting in Moscow and finishing in St Petersburg which has been great. We were met at the Airport and taken by Coach to the Ship Tsar where we were welcomed on board. The ship itself is quite comfortable. (Not a space-ship), and, BALCONY CABIN adequate. Meals and service on board were of excellent standard, with drinks served for Lunch and Dinner. The staff were all very warming, friendly and dedicated, which helped create a relaxing atmosphere. Excursions, Concerts, Circus, Ballet, Cathedrals, Museums, Metro Subways etc. were all Highlights, and, very well organised throughout the cruise, with free time given. Once sailing, each village being Uglich, Yaroslavl, Goritsy, Kizhi Is, and Mandrogi all have their own stories which are all interesting. Back on board it was time to relax and reminisce with fellow passengers, and staff. There were many fun activities for all. Vodka Tasting Session, Traditional Russian Doll making, Russian Language and Songs, Martryoshka painting class, and, Ice-Cream Parties to name a few over the 14 days. Each evening there was Live Music and Dancing with Surprise Entertainment the last night before arriving in St Petersburg, which was exceptional. To say what has been most enjoyed, would be difficult as the whole cruise was of high standard. Thanks to all involved for such wonderful memories to treasure. We continued on with Scenic to do the Baltic States Land Tour which has also been enjoyed by John (my husband) and myself. Read Less
The pre-cruise interface with Viking was excellent. The high quality of the cruise was indicated when we were first met at the Amsterdam Airport. The greeters were polite and professional. The motor coach provided from the airport to ... Read More
The pre-cruise interface with Viking was excellent. The high quality of the cruise was indicated when we were first met at the Amsterdam Airport. The greeters were polite and professional. The motor coach provided from the airport to the harbor was neat, clean, and the driver was informative with local knowledge.
Upon arrival at the Kara, we were informed the crew would make every effort possible to have our rooms ready prior to the designated time and for the most part the crew lived up to their promises. The tour guide in Amsterdam was passable, but not excellent. He did lead up properly around the city, but he seemed to be in a hurry to return us to the ship or to leave us to our own accord.
The dining staff was polite and prompt in their duties. The servers always insured the beverage glasses were properly filled. The food quality for the most part was superior to other cruises. We were disappointed with "German Night", the buffet served for dinner was slightly above a lunch buffet. I had anticipated a meal including: Schnitzel, Rouladen, Kassler Ripchen, etc., but we were served "German Ham", that "meat" was never served at Mutti's or Grossmutti's. We realize the meals were catered for the American taste, but a little more European/German influence would have been appreciated.
The walking tours of the various cities were very good. The English spoken by the guides was impeccable. The knowledge possessed and relayed was greatly appreciated.
One aspect I would like to have seen amended is the before and after cruise options. Time did not allow a two day extension in Amsterdam and two day extension in Lucerne. We would like have had one night in each city, instead of two in one. Additionally, the hotel in Lucerne was excellent. However, could Viking have not provided a less expensive option.
We are in the budget/planning process of our next Viking River Cruise. We are looking heavily into the Heart of Germany/Christmas Market Place cruise. Read Less