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13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
My husband and I had been planning a wonderful birthday celebration for him, so we decided on Viking. We had heard from many friends on how superb and excellent it was to travel with Viking. This was not our first cruise as we have done ... Read More
My husband and I had been planning a wonderful birthday celebration for him, so we decided on Viking. We had heard from many friends on how superb and excellent it was to travel with Viking. This was not our first cruise as we have done several cruises at least 1 every 2 years, fortunately enough with other very high-end lines - Oceania and Regent Seven Seas. We are lucky enough that we can afford high-end cruise liners so we thought Viking would be in the same category as our past cruise experiences! We booked the Eastern European cruise from Bucharest to Budapest from Aug 21-28, 2019. Boy were we SO wrong!!! I am currently sitting in my hotel room on August 25, in Sofia, Bulgaria writing this review, we have been here since August 23. The reason I am writing this today and posting to all different websites instead of communicated directly with Viking is because we have already tried that. We had an extremely unsatisfying phone conversation with Viking customer service when we arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria after disembarking. The lady on the phone was quite rude and dismissive of our issues. She was unwilling to admit any fault with Viking Cruises or their services and told us that we “chose to leave” therefore, there was no compensation for our dissatisfaction and that we should of purchase travel insurance. Really? Based on how we have been treated so far, we would not consider another Viking Cruise. We are on the younger side of their demographic, are active on social media, and have a wide circle of friends. If this is how we are treated, I cannot imagine how they dealt with the very elder members of the cruise. This is how are travel story began: We literately got on the ship on August 21 and disembarked and left on August 23 (being my husband's birthday)- two days into our cruise! The last thing you want to do is pack again when you have only spent 1 night on a ship. But it was such an awful and uncomfortable experience and my husband was so unhappy, we made the decision to leave the ship and told the ship's hotel director that we were disembarking on the next port of call (Vidin, which by the way, the ship did not stop there, but instead we made it to Lum as the ship had some issues getting to Vidin! - not surprise, as we were late the day before arriving to the first port of call Russe, Bulgaria to pick up the majority of the passengers who got off for their tours in a different location). Just think to have to decide to either deal with this awful experience for another 5 nights or cut your losses and leave ship, we chose the latter. We had to at least close the day of his 60th birthday in a place we would be more comfortable at. To start, we arrived on Saturday, August 17 in Bucharest from the US as we wanted to spend a couple of days on our own touring the city. We are not big on group tours and prefer doing our own thing (this is another big problem if you travel with Viking but will fill you in on that part of the story later). We were told to speak to our local Viking contact at the Sheraton Bucharest hotel - where we were staying as part of their 1 day pre-cruise land offer (and at least it is a very nice hotel, and since I hold Platinum status with them, we were upgraded to a lovely suite). Pre-cruise meeting August 20th in the evening – Sheraton Hotel: The Viking person there told us to have our luggage out by 7:30 am on August 21 and to meet in the lobby by 9 am. She indicated that there would be a scenic tour through the city on our way to a location for lunch and then a bus ride to the ship. What we were not told or even offered, especially for those guests that had already been in the city for days prior to cruising, was given an option to go straight to the ship from the hotel. August 21, ship boarding day, what really happened: Stop 1 - they bused us around the city again and took us to Old town (our 5th time there, remember, we arrived on August 17th!), then wanted to give us a walking tour of Old town, why??? We told them we had already been there 5 other times, so instead my husband and I sat around some bank building steps for almost 2 hours while the rest of the guest did their so called "tour" what a waste! At this time of day (9 am) all of Old Town restaurants are closed and only some coffee shops were open, we just had breakfast at the hotel as instructed! We sat around from 9 to 11:30 am! I asked Diani (or Dina) our very confused tour guide on bus 14, if there was a better option for us that we could meet them at the restaurant, she actually threatened and said that if we did not arrive at the restaurant, we would have to take a private car to the ship and that was about 1 hour and 45 minutes ride, so my husband and I decided to tag along. Old town tour is done thankfully, and now they tell us we are going to the Parliament building for a 10-minute picture stop and finishing up at the Museum of the Villages before lunch. Stop 2 - We crossed through town again, and saw the same scenery, the arch, the revolution square, heard the same stories and finally arrived at the Parliament location again and after 10 minutes those that got off for “picture moments” got back on the bus, where the tour guide and her very valuable assistant proceeded to do a head count and appeared that they were short 1 person as she stated that we were originally 37 on our bus (#14) and now we were 36. She then told us that we could not leave until such person was found and asked us if we knew this person? How could we know such person as we just all boarded 2 hours ago, none of us have even met, let alone know all the passengers on board? She didn't even know if we were looking for a man or woman. After an almost 45-minute wait in the parking lot, they finally gave up and we headed to the Museum of the villages tour. Stop 3 – Museum of Villages - What a dump, The is and old, mosquito infested open air museum that has the different house structures of Romania within its compound, we were forced to be there for 2 hours, so again we tried to find a decent place to sit while we waited for our 2 pm departure. We sat in an un air-conditioning hut where they Come to find out, that during this tour, the tour guide's quiet head sets and microphone were not working so no one could hear her talking about this 'wonderful museum'. Again, my husband and I do not like group tours, and we made this clear to the agent when we booked our cruise directly with Viking, he told us we could also do our own thing, really? Stop 4 – LUNCH - So now we are down to lunch, oh boy, it was at Pescarus by a local lake (why not Hard Rock cafe next door, at least the building is nicer, and they have real a/c and great food). The tour guide made it sound that this was an exceptional high-end restaurant with wonderful local food. This restaurant reminded us of an old 70 diner in Vegas, the food was some type of composition of lots of onions with some 3 pieces of meat, potatoes and bread, with some side salad. Wine, water and if you only asked beer, as they didn't voluntarily offered beer or told us it was included in our meal. My husband had already gone to the bar and paid for his as we didn't know it was also included. This was lunch – nursing home cafeteria!!! Oh, and some local folkloric dancing was provided for entertainment. Guys this is what you call luxury travel and superb top of the line service, read your advertisement, it is a SCAM, total SCAM!!! Then finally we are off to the ship, almost 2 hours into the drive, the tour guide's information about Romania is focused on that people have their own gardens, grow their own vegetables and fruits, and have cows, chicken, and pigs in their lands, and indicates "to the left you will see some cows, to the right you will see how gypsies live. Coming to the right again are more cows and some chickens"? Really... ok so we finally arrive the ship.... Finally, on board - Room was quite small, but appeared comfortable at least, we had room 323 on the highest level with a Veranda (never got to use it). The ship has NO WOW factor, it is small, clean, but small. Our room had a mini bar but of course empty why would they want to even fill it up with sodas, juice and beer for you, like most "LUXURY" cruises do when you pay such a high-price, of course not, we are just cattle and their job is to hurry you up to the next port of call get you off the ship and put you on another awesome tour for the day, give you some petty lunch and bring you back for dinner. We could see this coming. We had a decent dinner and some drinks at the bar and called it a night, we could not get much sleep as people were walking above our room, since we were on the top floor above us was the walking track! There is a taped paper sign by the railing asking guest that as a "curtesy not to walk between the hours of 10 pm to 7 am" did they see, read or listen, no! So between toilet flushes (oh yes, they have some type of vacuum system that is so loud, you can hear everyone’s flushes all night long - remember, the majority of passengers on this ship were over 70, I think we were the youngest, so they go to the restroom a LOT! And the guest walking above our room, we probably got 4 hours of sleep, but we thought when they all get off the boat tomorrow, we can relax and enjoy the ship and sleep in -- not! We were told that for those that were not going on tours in Russe, Bulgaria the next morning, they could lower their room speaker’s volume so you would not be disturbed! Right!!! 7:45 am a loud speaker wakes us up, literately we both jumped out of bed, as they had to announce the departing time for tours!!! We tried to reduce the speaker volume, and were unsuccessful as it was broken, so we knew now that sleeping in would not be an option for the next days. We decided to try and go to bed once again after everyone got off the boat and this is where the real meal plan begins. You see they offer breakfast from 7-9, because they don't expect any one to remain on the ship, why would they bother to extend breakfast time to maybe 10:30 for those that do want to stay onboard. All luxury ships provide some type of meal service throughout and 24 hours. This ship does not offer ROOM SERVICE, so you are screwed. You must eat at hours told, if not, you will end up like us with no breakfast or lunch for our first full day on board. By the time I got up on the first day of cruising (Aug 22), we both missed out on breakfast, tough luck! They had some breads and cold cuts, but forget some nice eggs or omelet, bowl of cereal or warm toast. We decided to stay on board to see how the experience would be as we had decided not to join any of the "free tours" based on our pre-cruise tour experience we could see the quality and decided to just get off where we could at each port of call and do our own thing (of course we didn't get to do that as we permanently got off the next day!). 1st full and last day on board - here it goes, we have no real breakfast, for lunch we both napped again and by the time we woke up we had missed the light lunch they sat out for the maybe 12 passengers that stayed on board. So, we ate what was left before they picked up by 2 pm. My husband likes to smoke his cigars, and proceeded after lunch to go to the upper deck to have one and enjoy the river view, to his amazement, they had removed all shading in the designated "smoking" area at the back of the ship, he literately sat in the withering sun at 90 degrees F trying to enjoy his cigar, he could not and just got up and we ended up spending the remaining of the day in the a/c lounge area. There is absolutely no wait service in the upper deck. If you want to get a drink, you must go down to the bar and order one. You are on your own. By this time my husband was so fed up with how the services are on board and the limited staff that is available we were so disenchanted that I only wanted to be off this ship! So, this is how the meals program works, breakfast is 7-9 am, lunch 12-2 pm, however, the restaurant is not open for those days where everyone or the majority of passengers our off on tours. So, the only day that lunch would even be available in the restaurant is the 24th as it was the only "Sailing day" to "enjoy the luxuries of this ship" a joke. Dinner starts at 7 pm as per their program sent to us. Not true, on the ship we were told that if you did not make it past 7:20 pm in the restaurant, most likely you would miss out on your appetizer, and if you got there by 7:45 pm you would might not get your main course, so of course everyone like cattle, herd over to the restaurant right at 7 pm! What a joke, where is the luxury in this, the comfort, why work on your time vs. ours! We are paying for this service it is not a nursing home, but we sure felt like it! We were so disgusted with this that we didn't even put in our dinner order we went back to our room and discussed our options, we decided to cut this trip short and leave! Didn't care where, just leave! I spoke with the Hotel director on board and explained that we were so disenchanted with this whole experience we just wanted off the boat. We left August 23 at 9 am to never, ever turn back. We ended up having to pay for a driver to take us to Sofia, Bulgaria $200 Euros. Booked a room at the Hilton in Sofia for 5 nights and booked two one-way plane tickets $1500 K to take us from Sofia to Budapest on the 28th as we already have the 2 post days in Budapest booked with Viking. We don't head home until the 1st of Sept so it would of cost us a lot of money to change our first-class seats back to the US for an earlier departure, plus Budapest has been on our bucket list for a long time. So, to summarize our experience, if you are looking for true luxurious travel, with all the comforts of high-end cruising VIKING IS NOT, again NOT FOR YOU! Our advice, please do your research, I failed to do this, and we relied on what people we knew that travel like us had shared! I didn't bother to read reviews, or investigate further, since their pricing and advertising is similar to those true luxury lines, we didn't think twice on booking. However, lessons learned, from now on it does not matter how experience travelers we are, we will always check. I am so upset about this, this cost us over $15,000 K, we could have done a beautiful resort in Hawaii or a luxury pent-house cruise in the Caribbean for this price, but no, we chose Viking due to their misleading, false advertising. As I initially stated, I called their customer service number once we arrived at Sofia, Bulgaria to ensure that they would NOT cancel our hotel in Budapest as it was part of the package and to also request a partial refund for such an awful experience. They lady on the phone proceeded to tell me that we didn't buy trip insurance and therefore, we were not owned anything back! As we chose to leave, no lady, you gave us plenty of reasons to leave that is the big difference!! We didn't buy trip insurance, why would we, we are both healthy and had every intention to make this trip, it is my husband’s 60th. She told me that if we would have purchased it, there would have been a partial refund. NOT TRUE, their trip insurance does not refund you for dissatisfied services only for the following as per their brochures: CANCEL FOR ANY REASON WAIVER DETAILS What We Will Do: Under the “Cancel For Any Reason” Waiver, we will waive our cancellation penalties and reimburse you in cash or travel vouchers (depending on the reason for cancellation) for the nonrefundable portion of your Viking trip cost, provided that you cancel before your scheduled departure. We will also waive any additional fees you would otherwise incur for a change in your per person occupancy rate if a person booked to travel with you cancels his or her trip and you do not cancel your trip. How You Are Reimbursed: If you cancel for one of the “Specified Reasons” listed in the Protection Plan document, we will reimburse you in cash. If you cancel for any other reason, we will reimburse you with a travel voucher that can be used for future voyages with us. The maximum amount covered under this “Cancel For Any Reason” Waiver is the cost of the travel arrangements provided by Viking Cruises. TRIP INTERRUPTION AND DELAYED ARRIVAL - Provides You with a reimbursement for the unused prepaid, non-refundable Payments or Deposits for Your land or water Travel Arrangements for Your Trip, plus the additional airfare cost to return home, if Your Trip is interrupted for a covered reason. MISSED CONNECTION - Provides You with a reimbursement for the unused portions of Your land or water Travel Arrangements, plus the additional costs to join Your trip, if Your arrival at the Trip destination is delayed for 3 hours or more for a covered reason. TRAVEL DELAY - Assists with additional travel expenses incurred when You are delayed at least 12 hours due to a covered reason. In the event of a covered delay, You will be reimbursed for additional expenses for hotels, meals, and transportation. AIR FLIGHT ONLY ACCIDENTAL DEATH & DISMEMBERMENT - Provides coverage up to the maximum benefit payable for loss of life, limb or sight resulting from an Accidental Injury. MEDICAL EXPENSE/EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE - Provides Medical Expense benefits for a covered Sickness or Injury incurred while on Your Trip. When required, We will evacuate You to the nearest qualified hospital and will then return You home when You are safe to travel. POLITICAL OR SECURITY EVACUATION - Provides coverage for all reasonable evacuation expenses incurred for Your transportation to the nearest safe haven, if You must leave Your Trip for a covered Political or Security Event. Evacuation must occur within 10 days of any Political or Security Event. BAGGAGE & PERSONAL EFFECTS - Provides reimbursement when Your baggage or personal belongings are damaged, lost or stolen during Your Trip. Personal belongings include such things as loss of luggage, jewelry, passports or travel visas. Ms. Viking Customer service or better yet, Mr. Hagen (CEO and President of Viking) tell me where you would reimburse me if we were unsatisfied with your services if we would have even opted to buy your so called “travel Insurance” oh but yes, another scam. Things to know, the main drive of Viking is to sell you tours, to get you off their ships like cattle herding as they now don't have to entertain you with drinks and meals on board. They put you on buses and bus you around and give you nice bottles of “warm” water and some type of lunch meal, then bus you back to their ship and feed you again to put you back to sleep in your corral and do this all over the next day. I call Viking a low-class glamping service, that really is what they are. There is absolutely no way to reach out to those higher up in the Viking organization, but one wonders if they are possibly well aware of these selling methods and activities. It is all about driving profit. I feel that as a consumer is my right to advocate for us travelers, and if publishing my review throughout all travel sites will have my voice heard, I will do until I have someone in the Viking organization try and appease this situation with us and reimburse us partially for such a disappointing and disastrous experience. I will also be disputing this with my credit card company. Also, anyone would be so kind, please share this review. Again, thank you for taking the time to read my review and feel free in reaching out to us, united we have a bigger voice. August 25, 2019 Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
Have been ocean cruising for a few years now and thought we would give river cruising a try. We saw Jane Mcdonald on a Danube river cruise, liked the itinery, so started looking around. Viking seemed to get a lot of excellent reviews, ... Read More
Have been ocean cruising for a few years now and thought we would give river cruising a try. We saw Jane Mcdonald on a Danube river cruise, liked the itinery, so started looking around. Viking seemed to get a lot of excellent reviews, nothing negative that we could find, so we booked with them. First off, they posted a nice personalised brochure to us. I logged onto their website and reserved our trips-don't worry if you forget this, you are automatically reserved on each of the included excursions and can change these at anytime, even on board. The meet up with the Viking rep at the airport and coach trip to the ship is very smooth.Once on the coach you won't touch your luggage again until its delivered to your cabin. On arrival we were shown around the ship and our cabin, and (depending on the time you arrive) were directed to a wine and cheese tasting event to get things going. The cabin was bigger than I expected, at least the same as on ocean cruises. Spotlessly clean and nicely decorated. Bottled water every day. Food was very good. Great choices with local variations at each port. Wine and beer included with every lunch and dinner. Waiters are mainly Philippino, very cheerful and clearly enjoy working for Viking. Nothing is too much trouble. Entertainment is obviously different to on an ocean cruise but the singers, musicians, and Tim our entertainment Director, are of very good quality and perfect for a ship of this size. Be prepared to join in, it makes for a great evening. Tim must eat Duracell batteries for breakfast, he's a human dynamo. The excursions are excellent, they run so smoothly and are fabulous. Water bottles are handed out as you leave the ship, so no getting dehydrated. No photographer on board (hooray! ), no sales pitches,no gym, a small onboard shop for those who collect memorabilia. Basically, what you pay for the cruise is virtually all you need to budget for, no nasty surprises. And no children on board! We are definitely using Viking again, we only need to decide where to go! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
We started the trip with a non-stop flight from Newark to Lisbon. We upgraded to Economy Plus for the extra leg room and enjoyed a smooth flight. We landed in the early morning and after clearing passport control we were met by Viking and ... Read More
We started the trip with a non-stop flight from Newark to Lisbon. We upgraded to Economy Plus for the extra leg room and enjoyed a smooth flight. We landed in the early morning and after clearing passport control we were met by Viking and transported to the Hotel Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Lisboa. It was a lovely hotel and we enjoyed our stay. We arrived so early we had to wait a little until our rooms were ready. Since I am useless with no sleep we just sat in the lobby until our room was ready. Our room was facing the interior courtyard and there was some noise from the nightclub on the roof but I was so jet lagged I was able to sleep. The hotel was very nice and clean and the included breakfast was terrific. We found a very nice seafood restaurant down the street from the hotel and we enjoyed dinner there. The second night we ate at a place recommended by the hotel but that was not exactly what we wanted. The food was tasty but floating in a bowl of gravy. Our transfer to Porto was quite a ride but we did make 3 stops to break it up, a comfort stop , a stop for lunch and a visit to Coimbra University. The tour buses were very comfortable and equipped with a rest room and wifi. This made the trip easier to bare. Our arrival at the ship was smooth and we were given our room keys as we got off the bus. The cabins were all ready and everyone was happy to arrive and unpack finally. The meals on the ship were all very good, the weather was perfect. Cool in Lisbon and Porto and the much warmer as we got into the Douro Vally. One thing about the meals was that if you didn’t take then Chef’s suggestion he took it personally. I had duck one day and did not want the gravy. He became so upset and insisted the duck needed the gravy. It was just a personal thing I don’t care for gravy but he was acting like I suggested we go club baby seals. One night my husband ordered from the always available side of the menu. The waitress again was horrified and tried to get him to order something else. I just found that strange. The tours were all very nice my favorites were the dinner at Grahams and the Bread Bakery tour. When we were riding up to Grahams the tour guide told us that we probably didn’t know each other yet but when she picked us up at the end of the dinner we would be great friends and we were. A beautiful dinner in a beautiful place. The bread bakery was amazing. I love bread and this was the best bread I ever tasted. The lady took it right out of the oven and handed it to me. I had to grab some napkins to stop from burning my hand. I enjoyed the warm bread with butter and homemade jam. We did several wine tasting at wineries. The Sanderman winery was interesting though the ride up there was very scary. There was nothing bad that happened but I was nervous. The Viking drivers were very skillful and careful. How they negotiated the hairpin curves and the narrow roads in the big bus was truly amazing. They always got applause and a handshake when we returned. The day in Salamanca ,Spain was very nice. Plaza Mayor reminded us of Venice. We enjoyed a lunch there . Delicious and reasonable priced. We enjoyed the ship probably even more because we received an upgrade to a Veranda Suite. I am afraid I have been spoiled. The bed was comfortable and the room was spotless. Our cabin steward was perfect. She kept our room in tip top condition. The final day we were sadly transported the Porto airport for another direct flight to Newark. It was a wonderful vacation. I cant wait for my next Viking trip. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2019
While we were questioned by family and friends, and found out almost everyone else on the cruise as well, as to why did we want to go to Russia? Our family were concerned about our safety, especially after weeks of protests in Moscow. ... Read More
While we were questioned by family and friends, and found out almost everyone else on the cruise as well, as to why did we want to go to Russia? Our family were concerned about our safety, especially after weeks of protests in Moscow. None of this daunted our desire to go, especially since we had already paid for the cruise. We wanted to see something we knew would be very different and were raised to treat Russia as an enemy country. We were really in for a pleasant surprise - we absolutely loved Russia. We learned so much about the country, the people, their history; how they suffered during WW II and also how they suffered under communism prior to the fall of the Soviet Union. That's why we went, and while this will probably be the once in a lifetime trip, we'd do it again given the opportunity. We are first time river cruisers - really want to do another river cruise somewhere - most likely Europe. We were so impressed with Viking - their planned tours were fantastic. The ship was exceptionally well maintained. Don't be daunted by the 1975 ship build date - Viking keeps is looking new at all times!! Our cabin (room 300) was very comfortable. The food was great; the staff absolutely top notch - I'd love to cruise with this crew again. One concern I've read before going was that there is only 1 elevator on this ship and the stairs are quite steep. My wife and I are in the 60s and 70s, in good shape. We only used the stairs - had no problem going up and down. Used the elevator once to take our suitcases down to weigh them before departing - as part of foolish manly pride, I decided to take the first bag down the stairs - no problem going down; however, two Viking cleaning ladies immediately jumped in and grabbed my bag to carry it down - they then pointed to the elevator and said I could use that!!! Trying to go back up with the bag was more of a challenge - a young Viking sailor saw me and immediately lifted the bag over his head and carried it up for me - this is how the crew is all the time. I then elected to use the elevator for the second bag - much wiser. So, we had no complaint regarding using the stairs! People with mobility limitations would have difficulty on the stairs. It was a little more challenging after the vodka sampling activity one evening - I definitely recommend it. Our room was right outside the main dining area - we thought this might be an issue with noise - no issue whatsoever - since everyone is on the same schedule, people talking outside our room never bothered us. While we had a balcony, we hardly used it since we were so busy all the time; plus it could be a little cool sitting out there in the evening - once the sun went down - between 9 and 10 pm, up at 4:30, the temperatures went down - maybe into the 50s. However, we were lucky - we brought the sun - something rare in this part of the world. So our temperatures were mostly in the 70s during the day; one day it hit 80 in Moscow - while locals weren't happy with that, it still felt very comfortable. All excursions go on rain or shine - we had a few light showers and one heavier downpour in Yaroslavl - but the outside gift area was covered, so rain never bothered us. We travelled from St Petersburg to Moscow - we go through 17 locks - many are at night when sleeping; but very interesting to watch. We didn't realize there are 5 Viking ships going up and down this route all season - each one does 14 round trips per season (6 month period) - can't do it in the winter since lakes and rivers are frozen over. All ships looks exactly the same. When we got to St Petersburg all 5 were at the docks - each one leaving a different day. They'll dock 2 together, so you will have to walk through one to get to your ship. Some of you will do what some of us did - get on the first ship and go to your room - only to find your key doesn't work. Then you realize, you are on the wrong ship!!! There are differences in the ships - usually in the size of public rooms. Starting in St Petersburg, all our tours were included with two exceptions. Went to Catherine Palace in Pushkin - unreal to see this. The crowds were quite large, but the Viking guides (some from the ship, others local) - are great. Lots of historic detail which they are very proud to provide regarding Russian history. Did the Panoramic St Petersburg tour - got a really good look at this beautiful city. Did the optional Cossack Folk Songs and Dances - don't miss this fantastic show - the show is in the parking lot of the port - in a large tent - kept perfectly comfortable inside. Then went to the Hermitage - this place I so incredibly large with so much to see and lots and lots of people. It's definitely worthwhile - but not possible to see everything. Did the optional St Petersburg from the water - highly recommend this wonderful tour of canals in St Petersburg. We stayed on the open deck for the entire trip - but you can go in to a covered area if it rains. I also attended the ballet - saw Swan Lake - it was beautifully done. Left St Petersbug and sailed to Mandrogy - very smooth waters all the way. This is a very interesting stop - no included tours, but you can walk through a small village. Went to a vodka museum - didn't realize the 300 ruble entry fee included sampling 3 or 4 vodka's of your choice. Some people did the Russian Banya - they all said it was worthwhile - I preferred not to try. Then we sailed for Kizhi - a tiny island way up north on Lake Onega - the entire island is a historical museum of how life was in Russia 300 years ago. Very interesting - it was a very smooth ride on the lake. The cathedral was fantastic to see. Priests did a chant for us - fascinating to see and hear. The old house was unreal how they engineered it - warm places for children and women and an entire area inside for the cattle to stay for the very harsh winters. This was the coolest day we experienced; I think in the 50s and windy with very light rain - it felt so good when coming from Texas in August. Goritsky was the next stop - bus ride to Monastery for a beautiful included tour of Monastery. Then a bus ride from Monastery to meet ship in Kuzino (you could have stayed on ship to relax, but we wanted to see everything we could). Next stop was Yaroslavl - a city of 600K people - quite nice city. Did the Yaroslavl tour with Governors House - this was really worthwhile. Got to go into a beautiful church - leaned so much in there. Also visited a high school where each group was assigned a student to give us the tour - Our student's English was very good; then a 12 year old young lady performed a Russian dance for us - she was so good. Then in the Governor's house local young ladies escorted each group - there was so much artwork in there ; plus some live classical music, plus 1800's dances performed by 2 young ladies and 2 young men - they were superb. Then is was off to Uglich - the last town before Moscow. Got up to prepare for our 8:30 tour which was a visit to a Russian home - thought we were already docked at 6:30am; since ship wasn't moving. Opened curtain to see what it was like out - very dense fog. Cruise director told us we hit the fog when entering the Volga river and had to stop and anchor since they can't navigate the river in dense fog. Then we were told we would move once fog lifted and unfortunately would have to miss the stop at Uglich - very disappointing. Viking made it up by inviting everyone on the optional Moscow by night tour - for those who already paid, we got refunds. Last stop was Moscow - did the Kremlin included tour - again large crowds, but so worthwhile to see.. Then we did the optional tour of the Cosmonaut Museum - they really put on a tremendous display. They are vey proud of their accomplishments and the fact that they have worked well with USA in space activities. Moscow by night is highly recommended - a late night, but worth it. Last tour was the included Panoramic Moscow - riding the subway was quite the experience - the stations were absolutely beautiful. Finally, pack and head home. I was so impressed with how organized Viking is with handling luggage and getting us to the airport on time - this happened on both sides - getting to St Petersbugh - arrival and check in was the smoothest I've ever experience. I think I've written enough - if you gather that we loved this cruise, you are right and that we were so impressed with Viking - I will definitely sail with them again. The wait staff was phenominal - mostly Filipino or Russian - incredibly responsive to our needs and food was great. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
We just got back from the Cities of Light cruisetour (August 7-18th, Prague to Paris on the Alsvin) and had a great time! This was our second Viking river cruise having gone on the Danube Waltz last summer (Budapest to Prague on the ... Read More
We just got back from the Cities of Light cruisetour (August 7-18th, Prague to Paris on the Alsvin) and had a great time! This was our second Viking river cruise having gone on the Danube Waltz last summer (Budapest to Prague on the Legend) which we also really enjoyed. I was worried that August would be unbearably hot and crowded. However, we found the crowds quite manageable and the weather was very nice: low 70s and sunny/clear most days; there was only one day when it rained steadily throughout the day. We had no problems with low or high water levels on this cruise. Viking is not the most luxurious or all-inclusive (or expensive) river cruise line but, for the price we paid which included air, we have been very happy with what Viking offers. Our vacation unfortunately got off to a rocky start. We used Viking Air and, through no fault of Viking’s, the first leg of our Delta flight to Prague was cancelled because of weather. We were re-routed all over the place and ended up on three connecting flights. Instead of arriving in Prague at 11 AM, we arrived closer to 6 PM that day. I had called Viking en route to let them know of the delay, and a very nice Viking representative was waiting for us at the airport when we finally arrived (the one bright spot to an otherwise miserable, exhausting flight). To top it off, my checked bag with a two-week supply of clothes, shoes and toiletries did not make it to Prague. The concierge at the Prague Hilton hotel was basically useless in helping me track down my bag. However, the minute the Alsvin Program Director, Bjorn, became aware of my situation, he took over and contacted the airlines; my bag was delivered soon after directly to the ship. Bjorn even arranged to have my one change of clothing laundered (at no charge) until my suitcase arrived. Thank you, Bjorn! The two hotels we stayed at, the Hilton Prague and the Le Meridien Etoile in Paris, were fairly good but I would probably choose to stay somewhere else if returning to Prague or Paris. At the Hilton Prague, the air conditioning didn’t work in our traveling companions’ room and was never fixed despite repeated attempts to inform the front desk. At both hotels, I was disappointed in the quality of service offered by the concierges and front desk. One the other hand, they are centrally located, the rooms/bathrooms were attractive, clean and spacious, and the breakfasts were very good. The Alsvin is a beautiful ship with a modern, clean, Nordic décor. It’s kept sparkling clean and is in great condition for its age. The staff with very few exceptions were outstanding, very friendly and attentive – we were treated like royalty on this cruise! As already mentioned, Bjorn, our Program Director, was remarkably knowledgeable, helpful and attentive… and very funny too! Last year on the Legend, we had a French Balcony cabin. Although it was nice to open the sliding door at night (if not rafted next to another ship), we spent very little time in our cabin during the day since most of our time was spent dining, touring, and lounging in the public spaces. On this cruise, we booked the least expensive “aquarium” class cabin, saving about $1000-2000 compared to a balcony cabin, and were happy with our choice. Our cabin was very small but comfortable and efficiently laid out. Our cabin steward was excellent and kept everything very neat and clean. Meals are served in the main dining room and in the Aquavit Terrace which opens to a lovely, outside deck with expansive views. We really enjoyed the Aquavit and had about a third of our meals there. I would say the food on our cruise ranged from very good to excellent. Food quality can vary across ships depending on the Executive Chef and kitchen. Our Chef, Thomas, prepared some excellent regional dishes (mostly German) and we tended to order those most nights. For example, on the German buffet night, everything was delicious and perfectly prepared. The soups on this cruise were especially good, a highlight of the cuisine I thought. My husband had the ‘anytime’ steak one night and he said it was excellent. There was only one night when I wished I had ordered something else: I tried a lamb dish on the menu one night and was a little disappointed. The dining service was usually very good to excellent although not quite as outstanding as on the Danube Waltz Legend cruise we took last summer. On one or two nights depending on where we sat, the service seemed to drag on a bit, and we had to ask our server to refill our wine glasses (something we NEVER had to do on the Legend!). The included excursions and guides ranged from very good to excellent, and were very enjoyable. I think Viking does this very well! You visit many of the ‘berg’ towns on this cruise (Nuremburg, Bamberg, Wurzburg, Rothenburg, Heidelberg) which are very picturesque and charming – think of those quintessential German half-timber houses and thatched roofs. We went on only one optional excursion, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, for $99 per person. Rothenburg is a walled medieval village with a fascinating history and some interesting shops and museums. However, we were disappointed that we had little free time to explore – only an hour after the fairly long bus ride, guided tour and a somewhat mediocre lunch at a local restaurant that took too long. In retrospect, we should have skipped the lunch to allow more free time to explore on our own. On most river cruises, the evening entertainment after dinner is often fairly dull and boring. On our Danube Legend cruise last summer, there was an uninspiring piano player and the lounge was usually empty after dinner. On this cruise, however, the entertainment seemed much more lively. There was a husband and wife keyboardist/singer team on board who were quite talented and seemed to encourage people to dance. Bjorn organized a couple of ‘quiz and game nights’ which people seemed to enjoy. On a couple of nights, there were onboard performances from local classical and jazz musicians who were quite good. I was surprised to find the lounge full of people many nights after dinner, “partying” until the late in the evening. There are a few downsides to be aware of when booking this particular itinerary (not a criticism of Viking, just the nature of the itinerary on this cruise). First, in order to pass under the MANY low bridges along the Main river, the sun deck remains closed for 3 of the 6 days on this cruise, from Bamberg until reaching Mainz on the Rhine river. It takes a long time for the staff to open and close the sun deck, so it may be standard for most cruise lines to close the sun deck while sailing on the Main river. However, it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience for us because the Aquavit Terrace on the third deck was available and has lovely outdoor seating to enjoy the views. Second, for those adverse to bus trips, this may not be the cruise for you. There are several long bus trips on this itinerary: the bus from Prague to Nuremberg takes over three hours and Luxembourg-to-Paris takes over 4 hours. There are also fairly lengthy bus rides (45 minutes to over an hour) to reach the Heidelberg and Trier excursions. Heidelberg is located over an hour’s drive from the river; for Trier, you depart the ship at Wintrich and are bused to Trier for the excursion, while the ship continues sailing on to Trier. The coaches, however, are very comfortable with guides that provide interesting information about the region. Finally, I would have liked to have had more time to experience sailing along the beautiful Moselle river. Although we had a full morning of sailing through the Rhine castle region (which is spectacular!!), our time on the Moselle was limited and we had to choose between going on the Trier excursion or staying on the ship while it sailed the Moselle to Trier. None of this detracted from the fabulous time we had on this cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
First ... a shout out to our wonderful “included” tour guides. We especially enjoyed Sylvia Seifert whose extended tour in Regensburg (including Jewish history and the Stumbling Stones Project) was spectacular. Another terrific guide ... Read More
First ... a shout out to our wonderful “included” tour guides. We especially enjoyed Sylvia Seifert whose extended tour in Regensburg (including Jewish history and the Stumbling Stones Project) was spectacular. Another terrific guide -whom we were with today in Cologne- was Ralph (sorry no last name). His knowledge of history was extensive. In a very brief period we learned so very much. Finally and sadly (sorry!!!) we cannot recall the name of our Wertheim guide, another terrific individual (woman in her 60s) who brought her home town to life -past and present. For example she told us that her husband was 5 years old when US tanks rolled through town at the end of WW2: an image he has never forgotten. She shared a great deal of her own life experience as well as history and both helped us get a true flavor for her river town. Food was outstanding. Thank you Marc!! My husband is a vegetarian and there were excellent options and the chefs also made special meals for him which were great. Note: no special milk products like soy, cashew or almond milk on board. The staff took exquisite care of us. They took care of everything. We have loved our cruise experience (we have one more day). I have 2 items to critique: I would have liked another day in each of the larger cities: Vienna and Cologne. Of course I knew the schedule in advance. I would like Viking to know this preference however and will put this on the evaluation they provide. We did the pre-extension in Budapest and so we did have more time there. The second item is that for a good part of the cruise - maybe half - the sundeck was closed due to very low bridges. This is something that I would have liked to know about in advance. It would not have stopped me from coming. Still, if one does not have a private balcony, not having access to the sundeck makes a difference. Last but not least this trip is great if you are very active (you can hike and bike), if you have limited mobility and need to be in a “gentle” tour group or if you are anywhere in between. We were told the average age was 68 with a range from 20s- 83. A terrific experience. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
Viking does a great job marketing and we were sold a “first class experience” when booking one of two explorer suites. These suites are right above the engines in the back of the boat. Low water on the Danube exasperated the loudness ... Read More
Viking does a great job marketing and we were sold a “first class experience” when booking one of two explorer suites. These suites are right above the engines in the back of the boat. Low water on the Danube exasperated the loudness if the suite and the vibrations made our teeth chatter. We had to be moved to another room on the cruise. Horrific experience and very poor customer experience. Viking also has no automation for passenger boarding and leaving ship. Traditional ocean liners have an automated system where you put in your card upon entering and exiting the ship. Viking does this work paper cards that you are given (and have to wait in line for) each time you enter or exit the ship. Ridiculous and so old school! They cruise officers were always looking for people at each port. I would also never add anything port extensions on with Viking. Very poor hotels, especially the Corenthia in Prague Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Viking River Cruise on “Embla:” Bucharest to Budapest w/ 3-nt Prague Add-On Overall: Terrible experience with Viking aboard their boat Embla due to major maintenance issues known to them before our cruise started. Half speed at ... Read More
Viking River Cruise on “Embla:” Bucharest to Budapest w/ 3-nt Prague Add-On Overall: Terrible experience with Viking aboard their boat Embla due to major maintenance issues known to them before our cruise started. Half speed at best; little to no air-conditioning with room temperatures ranging from the high 70s into the 90s. The dining room felt even hotter with everyone assembled. This was a boat maintenance issue, NOT a river problem. We did not have a river cruise; the boat stayed in Russe, Bulgaria for 3 days. Then we were on buses for the rest of the trip. No choice/options as to what we ate. Viking gave minimal refund and never answered my emails to Customer Relations and several senior management personnel. Specifics: Immediately after boarding we were informed that: • The boat would be going slower than normal because the river level was low and that caused the water to be warmer which had a negative effect on engine cooling. A crew member later told us that the boat had previously hit a submerged object and had to travel slow coming to Bucharest because of propulsion problems. We saw other longboats passing us (on the one day we “cruised” from Russe to Lom); the “warm” water did not affect them! We also saw tugboats pushing loaded barges which rode much lower in the river than our boat. – We were misled from beginning!! Viking was aware of problems with Embla before we even boarded. Viking could/should have told us in Bucharest that the ship could only sail at half speed and that we would not be able to make our ports on time. They could have offered to cancel our cruise, receive a full refund for the cruise and Prague portion, and given us one more night in a hotel in Bucharest to make travel arrangements. Instead, Viking elected to hide the problem and have us board a ship that could only travel at a very slow speed with 50% a/c capacity, and sent us to spend 3 days in the small town of Russe. • We should not open our balcony doors, especially during the evening & night, as the mosquitos were very bad. This was also the case on the open upper deck. Thus, outside air was not a solution for the 80-90 degree (F) temperatures in our staterooms. The first day in Russe we elected to stay on the boat and not walk into town. We went to the dining room for lunch and were told lunch would only be available in the small eating area in front of the lounge. This “meal” consisted of a buffet of soup, cocktail sandwiches, and Bulgarian meatloaf; not exactly what you expect on a cruise. The next day we were told that we could stay on the boat, but there would be no a/c for several hours. We opted to go on a 3-hr tour of the old and new city squares of Russe. Once on the tour we were told that we would be eating lunch in Russe after the tour. Following lunch, we were informed that we must not return to the boat. We would tour 3 museums, attend a piano recital (at least it was in an air-conditioned room) and then have dinner at the same restaurant where we had lunch. At both lunch and dinner we were given what they wanted us to eat; no menu to select from. Again, not what one expects when traveling on a cruise. The boat set sail from Russe after midnight that night. The next day (Saturday, 27 July) we cruised at a very slow speed all day. This is the day we were supposed to be “scenic cruising past the Iron Gates.” That is one of the reasons we selected this Viking itinerary; we wanted to see the Iron Gates – this did not happen! We had lunch and dinner in the dining room. There was no ice cream available for dessert at dinner; the chef said the freezer was turned off. We were told before dinner that we would be getting off the boat the next morning in Lom. We were told that we would be driven by buses to Belgrade and then to Budapest. Keep in mind, temperature in the staterooms was 80-90 defrees (F). The rest of the boat (lounge, dining room, etc.) was even hotter. Sun, 28 July: After sailing over 36 hours and not even getting to Viden, we boarded buses in Lom and less than 3 hours later stopped for lunch with a distant view of the Belogradchik Rocks. That’s as close as we got to them and the Fortress (tours touted in the Viking literature). The lunch was a small buffet, no “ordering from a menu.” After a 12-hour day on a bus we arrived at the hotel in Belgrade. We had dinner around 9pm (more than 9 hours after we had lunch). Mon, 29 July: Spent the day in Belgrade. Had lunch in Old Town and dinner at the hotel. Again, we did not get to order from a menu. Tues, 30 July: Departed Belgrade via bus. Had noticed on the internet that it was a 4-to-5 hr bus ride to Budapest. Instead, Viking bussed us through Croatia where we had lunch in various private homes. We did not choose this; Viking did. When given the option prior to the cruise to have meals in private homes, we declined. This is not something we preferred to do. We, once again, did not get to select our meal. We were not offered the choice of a 4 or 5 hour bus ride vice a 12 hour bus day! After arriving at the hotel in Budapest around 9pm we had another buffet dinner. Wed, 31 July: Following two 12-hr bus ride days, two of our party were in poor physical condition and could not attend the included “Panoramic Budapest” tour. We were not meeting the objectives we had when we selected this itinerary. Since two members of our group were not on the tour, they were not provided lunch by Viking; the rest of us ate, once again, what & where Viking prescribed. Thurs, 1 Aug: Spent the day recuperating at the hotel. Note: Since we arrived in Budapest a day earlier than planned, we could not stay at the InterContinental Hotel as originally planned. This hotel is very conveniently located to Old Town, the river, and most the popular tourist attractions. Instead we were assigned a hotel that was not within walking distance of the tourist areas. Fri, 2 Aug: Took a 9-hr bus ride to Prague. Had this been our first “bus day,” we would have been in much better physical condition upon arriving in Prague. As it was, taking this 9-hr ride after the previous two 12-hr bus days was too much. This whole trip was a miserable, painful, terrible experience. As disastrous as it was, the Embla Captain never addressed the passengers and apprised us of the situation; it was like he was hiding. We were not consulted about what we might have wanted; we were not given any options. It was strictly, “Do what Viking says!” This was supposed to be “the vacation of a lifetime.” When we planned it, we did not choose a bus tour of Eastern Europe. We have several reasons for NOT wanting to spend hours riding a bus. We did not get to enjoy any of the advantages of a cruise. The few days/nights we spent on Embla were extremely uncomfortable. We chose a balcony room, and upon boarding, were told not to open the balcony doors in the evenings or nights! We only had a few meals in the Embla dining room where we got to select our meal from a menu. The rest of the time we had no choice as to what we ate. We all ate more meals consisting of chicken and potatoes than we ever thought possible when on a “cruise vacation.” We spent $13,494 on this cruise (two were refunded a small amount since they used their frequent flyer miles for the air travel), four of us paid an additional $50 each so we could choose our airline flights and seats, and we paid various amounts (average was approximately $1000/couple due to differing age) for travel insurance. Each couple spent approximately $15,000 to spend a miserable two weeks on a poorly-functioning boat and a bus. We were unable to enjoy places like Budapest and Prague because Viking’s choices had us so exhausted and physically impaired. To make matters worse, Viking has refunded $3,999 and claims that is 50% of our cost. Viking can most likely justify this with some “creative accounting.” $4,000 per couple does not come close to compensating us for our expenditures and the pain and suffering we endured. If you do book Viking, I recommend that you ask for a maintenance record of the boat. Specifically, for Embla: ask for the maintenance they performed after July 28, 2019 in order to fix the problems that led to our ‘bus tour”. I would also ask for the exact cost breakdown that they show for the trip to be sent directly to you, not just the travel agent so you are aware how they are pricing it. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
This is was our first river cruise. We are seasoned ocean cruise travelers. This cruise started with a delay in boarding the ship of one day due to maintenance problems on the previous cruise. We only had one day that we went to a port and ... Read More
This is was our first river cruise. We are seasoned ocean cruise travelers. This cruise started with a delay in boarding the ship of one day due to maintenance problems on the previous cruise. We only had one day that we went to a port and got off the ship and toured the venue. That was on day 12 when we visited Cologne Germany. All the other days we spent more time on buses than at the scheduled venue. We had an additional day when the ship was put in dry dock. Thus we were now 2 days behind. In order to make up time scheduled venues were skipped. The crew and staff were excellent, but the cruise was very bad. One of the highlights of the cruise is to cruise the Rhine and see all the mid evil castles. When we got to that point on the cruise it was 8:30 at night and dark! No castles I was notified via “form” letter 4 days after returning off the cruise that Viking was sorry and that they would give us 25% off our next cruise. Who would ever go on another cruise and get this type of cruise. Viking must think I am stupid. To spend $14,000.00 for this and get no compensation is totally wrong. Viking should be ashamed. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We paid for our cruise with all the expectations of neophyte river cruisers and are crushed that our river cruise of a lifetime ended up being a horrible bus ride through Eastern Europe. Due to mechanical malfunctions on the Viking ... Read More
We paid for our cruise with all the expectations of neophyte river cruisers and are crushed that our river cruise of a lifetime ended up being a horrible bus ride through Eastern Europe. Due to mechanical malfunctions on the Viking Embla our tour was unable to hold to schedule resulting in canceled excursions, creative docking at unknown sites (we even had to break through a factory fence at one point in order to re-board our ship) closed locks, restricted use of the sun deck, after dark "scenic cruising", and days of sailing without stopping for excursions in order to "get back on schedule". We thought the staff was superb, they tried valiently to make us happy and service was impeccable, however after day 10 or 12 I began to think I was suffering from 'Stockholm Syndrome'. Our on board program director explained daily what was going to happen the next day, because of where the ship was in relation to where it should have been this excursion or that excursion was cancelled but we are offering a substitute or we could "stay on board with us..lunch will be at 12:0 in the in dining room...etc. " After several of these substituted excursions many of us stopped going as the excursions involved hours of bus rides each way. We wanted our cruise, not a bus ride. Viking is not making a significant compensation offer to us, in fact their offer shows little respect or understanding of our ruined trip. They seem not to care about customer satisfaction. We want our money back, Viking should have given us a full refund and canceled the cruise rather than take all of us down the river to the bus embarkation points. Viking knew before we boarded that the Embla could not deliver the cruise as promised. The schedule disruption was not due to river depth rather it was the Embla's malfunctioning engine and Viking's money grubbing refusal to cancel the cruise and refund our tickets. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
I chose this cruise as my great grandparents came from Saxony and I wanted to view the lay of the land from the water by cruising down the Elbe. Unfortunately drought and the resulting low water levels did not allow for cruising and we ... Read More
I chose this cruise as my great grandparents came from Saxony and I wanted to view the lay of the land from the water by cruising down the Elbe. Unfortunately drought and the resulting low water levels did not allow for cruising and we were bused from site to site while overnighting on the riverboats. Naturally this was extremely disappointing to us, but when life gives you lemons then you make lemonade... On the plus side, the crew tried very hard to accommodate us, although much of our onboard ship time turned into bus time in order to reach the prearranged tour stops on our itinerary. Another plus was that over half of the passengers opted out of the trip two weeks out when they were told that they would not be sailing.... Hence my husband and I only shared the the boat with fifth-one fellow cruisers. Meal options were limited to breakfast and dinner as we were always off the ship at lunchtime. We opted for the lighter breakfast option in the lounge on second, although full breakfasts were served daily in the dinning room on first. Dinner was served nightly on the first deck with table seating for groups of four or six. Small groups tended to gather in the lounge area prior to dinner and again following dinner where alcohol was available for purchase and instrumental and vocal entertainment was provided. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
Our first river cruise was delightful. The relaxed atmosphere and friendly helpful staff made it enjoyable. The food was enjoyable with the menu reflecting the countries that we were passing through as well as offering other choices plus ... Read More
Our first river cruise was delightful. The relaxed atmosphere and friendly helpful staff made it enjoyable. The food was enjoyable with the menu reflecting the countries that we were passing through as well as offering other choices plus a standard menu. The evening meals were normally at 7.00p.m. with one sitting and plenty of time to chat over the provided glass of wine. Dress was smart casual with the emphasis on casual. I only noticed one person wearing a jacket. Entertainment was limited. The pianist was good and each evening there was a local "speciality act" including opera or folk. The included trips were interesting with plenty of walking. Several of the cities had many cobbled streets and we were glad of our sure footed shoes. Some of the trips also had a significant number of steps so it is worth enquiring about this before hand if you have difficulty walking as the older buildings tended not to have disabled access. Most cities had a charge for using the rest rooms "Pay to Pee" which varied from 50 Euro cents to a Euro so make sure you have some coins as not all had a person to give change. Even McDonalds had a 50 cent entry machine. The ship occasionally docked outside town and then shuttle buses were freely provided. Most towns were busy and the ship often docked alongside other hotel boats so the view from the cabin could disappear. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
My wife and I have recently returned from our Russia river cruise via Viking. We actually sailed on a combination of canals, rivers, and lakes from Moscow to St Petersburg on the Viking Helgi. The Helgi is larger than the ... Read More
My wife and I have recently returned from our Russia river cruise via Viking. We actually sailed on a combination of canals, rivers, and lakes from Moscow to St Petersburg on the Viking Helgi. The Helgi is larger than the “longboats” we’ve sailed in previously on the Danube. Though longer, they have two decks, while the Russian river boats have four. The Russian boats are certified to sail in the ocean—but not too far from land. This was good, because some of the lakes we crossed were enormous. There are quite a few of these boats, all based on the same design. The Helgi was built in 1984. Viking acquired five of the boats in 2008 and completely stripped the interiors and rebuilt them to reflect the standards that Viking passengers are familiar with. The difference between the Viking ships and the other Russian boats is very apparent. The boats frequently dock side by side—you often have to walk through one or even two boats to get to yours, especially in the larger cities. There’s a dramatic difference when first walking through a Russian boat then onto ours. The Russian boats are quite drab. All in all she’s a beautiful and comfortable ship. One thing Viking didn’t do when they redid the interiors was improve the sound baffling between the cabins. There doesn’t seem to be much. We could clearly hear conversations and other sounds (use your imagination) from the cabins next to us. The first night aboard, exhausted from long flights, I had to politely ask our neighbor if he’d please turn down his TV, which he quickly did. Otherwise our veranda cabin was great with a very comfortable bed, pillows, linens, etc. The bath was small, but worked well and had a surprising amount of storage. The food was wonderful—every meal was great. Dinner each night featured a menu of different Russian specialities: appetizer, entree, and dessert. There are more “continental” offerings on each menu as well. The chef onboard the Helgi is German—Herr Benjamin. Though not identified as such, many meals have featured German specialties (krautwirkel—cabbage rolls; pflaumen kuchen—plum cake). They and the Russian offerings have been delicious. We looked forward to every meal. Viking offers wine or beer with lunch and dinner with no charge. I was a bit skeptical when it was clear that the only wine and beer was going to be Russian. The beer is actually excellent. Wine (red and white) is surprisingly good too, although not as good as Washington state, Oregon, or California wines typically are. Servers aboard don’t like to see empty glasses; they keep refilling your glass until you ask them to stop. Service aboard was absolutely amazing. Our cabin was kept spotless. But most impressive was the service in the bars and dining room. Servers are a combination of Russian and Filipino. They were all very friendly and extremely attentive. By the third day aboard every server was calling us by name. We’re not special, they seemed to know every passenger’s name. It was pretty amazing. Our fellow passengers were all very much like us—all older, and frequent travelers. We started with three days in Moscow. We were surprised at how much we liked the city. It was safe, extremely clean, with parks and extensive gardens everywhere. We had a pretty hectic schedule for the three days we were there, but were grateful we saw as much as we did. The next five days we cruised making stops at various cities, towns, and UNESCO heritage sites. The Russian countryside we cruised by was beautiful. We selected this cruise because of the number of days it offered in St Petersburg—three with the boat as our hotel. We opted to add the extra two days in a hotel offered through a Viking post cruise extension. Even five days wasn’t enough for this beautiful city. We’d highly recommend this cruise. All in all Viking did everything extremely well. The only thing that could have been better was the transfer from our post cruise extension hotel to the airport. Ours from the hotel was a little... um ... undersupported. We were told to be in the lobby at 2:45 am where a Viking rep would meet us. We’re there on time (5 couples) and waited. There was a Viking shuttle out front but no one in it. When someone checked again after 10 minutes the driver was sitting in it and indicated he was waiting for us. So we all boarded and he drove us to the airport and dropped us with our luggage in front of a terminal. We stood and looked at each other wondering where to go. Someone asked the driver; he pointed in a direction, shut the door and drove off. We all struggled a bit to figure out where exactly we should go to check bags etc., but eventually figured it out and helped each other out each step as we learned something useful. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
Our first river cruise; wife and I, and 2 grown girls wanted to see some of Europe and thought a river cruise was a good way to do it. Booked 1 of 2 suites for ourselves and I standard balcony room for kids. I booked with Viking because ... Read More
Our first river cruise; wife and I, and 2 grown girls wanted to see some of Europe and thought a river cruise was a good way to do it. Booked 1 of 2 suites for ourselves and I standard balcony room for kids. I booked with Viking because told "the best" and seemed to have good overall reviews. Expensive. Booked the airfare with Viking travel; excellent value and flexibility (started with a few days in London). Arrived in Budapest; Viking reps met us, and took us to ship. Included with the suite was a private car; gave us a van, which was ok since we had girls with us and they then came with us instead of bus. When checking into room, was told the "hotel manager" would take us to room (part of the "suite" deal). Manager was from previous cruise and begrudgingly took us and showed us room, all the time talking about how he was supposed to be on vacation now. Not a good start. Began with some excursions in Budapest; including a food tasting. That night my wife and I became ill, we assumed from the food, and stayed in the next morning. I attempted a walking tour in Bratislava that afternoon, became ill and passed out/hitting my head. Ended up in ER, but was OK. The guide was able to contact ship and advise my wife; they put her in a taxi to Hospital. We were basically on our own from that point; understand there are no doctors on board unless they are cruising with you! Fortunately there were very nice people on board who helped us out. Made it back to ship, not much from staff other than please fill out an accident report. Ship itself was clean and pretty nice. It seemed there may have been nicer ships on the river, but Viking seemed to be on the better side. Our suite was roomy and nice, but its in the very rear of ship and is noisy when moving. Cleaning staff excellent and very nice! Food was usually good; did return a few plates, with food overdone. Everyone eats meals at same time, so I can understand would be hard to serve that much at the same time. You don'd have much privacy at meals, tables seat at least 6. There is an optional spot upstairs however very limited seating as they only have 1 server there, so first come first serve, and was a popular option. Would be nice if they allowed mover service there. Waiters very nice, however some have limited English- not a big deal however some cruisers had difficulty communicating. Excursions were OK; we noticed later that many people did self-tour which I would have preferred, as I don't need all the details the guides sometimes over explain; sometimes I feel to fill the time. They want you to book early; however they always had space and were trying to get more people on them, so don't feel pressured to advance book. Towns very picturesque! Enjoyed walking around. Upon departure, they again supposed to take us in private car to Munich airport. They tried to put us and they people in other suite on 1 large bus by ourselves, because "the bus has to go to the airport anyway, so just go on the bus." The other suite complained enough to get a private car; we at this point didn't care so went on the bus (by ourselves); our kids had already left on another bus. That was unacceptable; we paid a lot for the suite that included the car. Overall, the managing staff on the ship mediocre at best. The working staff very nice and helpful. I would not do a Viking cruise again; the value not there. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
I don't know where to begin with this review. Before we started the cruise we understood that low water levels may sometimes affect the itinerary so we were prepared for that. What we were not prepared for is what actually did ... Read More
I don't know where to begin with this review. Before we started the cruise we understood that low water levels may sometimes affect the itinerary so we were prepared for that. What we were not prepared for is what actually did happen. From the time we boarded the Embla to the time we got off the buses in Budapest the trip was a disaster. Viking knew before we ever boarded the ship that it was broke but wanted us to board so they could still get their money for the cruise. We could tell something was not right when we went to our room and the a/c was not working properly and all the other passengers were complaining about it as well and the common areas were just plain hot. We departed that night at 11pm and literally crossed the river and docked again. We were then informed that the boat had a generator problem and they were bringing in a technician to repair the problem. After 2 days stuck there with no a/c or toilets we finally attempted to sail further. The ship made it 1 day and traveled only a short way so we docked again in a small town where we were put on buses and bused to Belgrade a 12 hour bus trip with just 2 stops. 1 bathroom break and 1 stop for lunch. The toilet on our bus was broke and backed up making our bus smell awful. By the time we reached Belgrade it was after 9pm and they offered a buffet dinner at 9pm at night. After 2 nights and 5 buffet meals later we were again loaded on buses and this time it was 13 hours on a bus to get us to Budapest. During the trip one of the buses broke down and one of the Viking crew members used his belt to make a temporary repair. Our bus was leaking very bad during a rain storm and a passenger actually used a umbrella to stay somewhat dry. We finally arrived in Budapest after 9pm and again they served us a buffet dinner late at night. The next 2 days were again all buffet style meals that you can get at Golden Corral. We were told by a Viking represenative that we would be contacted by Viking shortly after we arrived home. That did not happen. They just refunded a portion of the cruise only amount back into our bank account without ever discussing this with us. The amount was not even close to what we actually paid for the cruise and when I called customer service he explained that it was for the river portion only because we were provided the hotels precruise and post cruise. We were refunded 50% of the river portion and a 25% discount on a future cruise. Why would we ever consider a future cruise. Ridicoulous. The representative told me Viking considered this a very fair offer but they would up the 25% discount to 35% for us if we signed a disclosure agreement to keep our mouths shut. Vikng from start to finish was never honest with us and could care less about the safety of the passengers. They knew from the very beginning the ship had issues and we should not have ever boarded the ship. We never received a safety drill prior to sailing which we only did 1 day of. When we returned home we reseached the Viking Embla and saw that on a previous cruise in June just before our cruise the ship had been involved in a accident that damaged the generator. The same problem we had which apparently never was fixed properly. This cruise was supposed to be a trip of a lifetime and we had heard many good things about Viking in the past but they apparently now only care more about the money than the safety and experience their passengers receive. My wife and I have been on many Ocean cruises, some good and some great but this trip was a disaster from start to finish and beyond. If Viking had done the right thing and refunded us 100% of the cost of the cruise we would have absolutely considered cruising with them again. If you are one of the lucky ones who had a great cruise with Viking congratulations but if you happen to be one of the ones that the cruise turns into a disaster do not expect Viking customer service to do the right thing. Beware. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
We shared this information with Viking. Nothing significant was done. We booked through and they have also been advocating for our group (3 couples). Customer service at Viking is not empowered to do anything. A decision was made ... Read More
We shared this information with Viking. Nothing significant was done. We booked through and they have also been advocating for our group (3 couples). Customer service at Viking is not empowered to do anything. A decision was made “by Executive”, that provided 50% of our “cruise fare” as a refund. Unfortunately, there is no backup or detail on any billing to indicate what “Cruise Fare” is. It looks like they inflate the shoreside hotel prices in order to reduce their exposure on the refund. No proper explanation is given. After many phone calls, they reluctantly agreed to increase the voucher on future cruises to 35% from 25%. Why would we ever cruise with Viking again?? No Value in that. The reluctantly refunded our prepaid drinks package, but refused to refund prepaid onboard gratuities. We were only on the vessel for 2 days…. Cruise critic readers – read on and beware. There are many choices on river cruises. Many are much better than Viking. As you can read from other passengers the much touted Viking Experience we see on PBS is largely a marketing myth. I wanted to share our experiences with Viking on this cruise. We are experienced ocean cruisers (approximately 10 cruises on 3 lines – Princess, NCL and RCCL) and had looked forward to the change to a river cruise. We booked this event with two other couples with whom we frequently travel. Being subscribers to our local PBS affiliate, we were very impressed with Vikings promotions around Masterpiece Theater and eagerly anticipated a wonderful experience. We would describe ourselves as active seniors, still working, but nearing retirement age. I believe we tend to be relaxed travelers and we fully understand that occasionally issues can and do arise when travelling. Further, we have never felt the need to write to any of our other cruise hosts before. However, simply filling out your survey forms would not be enough to express our feelings on this cruise. The following feedback may help Viking in the future. Please read it carefully. Unfortunately, this is a competitive business and at this point we do not envision we will be joining your company - river or ocean on any future cruises. Booking and travel to Embla We were very pleased with the booking process, materials received, outbound flights, the arrival process, hotel and tours in Bucharest on the first day. Everything was handled well; Viking personnel were helpful and courteous. Checking in to Embla The port facility at Juju in Romania was very rudimentary with a steep gangway. Passengers lined up in a very clumsy, poorly managed serpentine line in the main reception area. It was the poorest reception we have ever experienced. Check in was very slow. There was no seating available for those who could not stand for long periods. No refreshments were offered. Benchmark Princess if you want to understand best practice in this area. In addition, security at the dock was non-existent. We never felt unsafe, but there was nothing to deter anyone from Boarding Embla. Ship and Stateroom We really liked the design and layout of the Embla. There was very good use of space, well thought out. Our stateroom was clean and comfortable and our cabin steward, Helen was fine. As compared to ocean cruises, it was apparent at check in and on the first day that Embla is very short staffed. The normal short meeting and greeting with key members like cabin staff did not occur. We were surprised that robes and slippers were not available in the staterooms. This is a normal offering among premium cruise lines and was missed. Dining and Lounge Again – short staffed. There were too few waiters. Drinks had to be carried from the bar due to insufficient bar staff. Bar staff courtesy was wide ranging. One was outstanding, the others bordered on rude and with no sense of urgency. Again, this was far below expectations. The food quality was quite good and the waiter, Executive Chef, and the Maitre D’ were outstanding. They were personable and engaging. We travelled with a gluten free friend and the Maitre D' went out of his way to be helpful. These crew members deserve special recognition. However, it was clear that our waiter, had little assistance and too many tables to attend to. During several meals we had to ask 2 and 3 times for service (coffee, wine, dessert). Frustrations We learned from your Program Director , and several other crew members, that Embla had been experiencing diminished power on the downriver journey to Bucharest. As the Danube has about a 3-knot current, this was less of a factor down bound, but a significant hindrance when travelling upriver. By day 2 it became obvious that there were significant problems effecting travel speed and air conditioning. Knowing this before embarkation would have been preferable and had Viking been communicative and transparent the frustration and stress levels would have been more manageable. We also understand that Embla was sailing without a key officer – Hotel Manager. Compounding this situation was the fact that the Captain has very limited English skills. This left the entire communication responsibility to the Cruise Director. One, very dedicated, hard-working person trying to appease 180 plus passengers who were growing more frustrated by the hour. The Cruise Director worked diligently to assist passengers and create optional logistics for this cruise. She was not or could not be as transparent as we feel the situation required. In addition, required safety drills never occurred. There appeared to be a cooling system modification arranged on the rear deck of Embla. Frankly, Viking chose to sail an unsafe, non-seaworthy vessel. Among our group, we have great empathy for the Cruise Director. It was clear to us that she was not sufficiently empowered or informed and was left to largely “wing it”. We are sure that somewhere at Viking, there were persons assisting. We feel strongly, however, that Viking needs an emergency management plan and contingency plans. Ideally, it would have helped if senior representatives of Viking were dispatched immediately to Embla simply to help communicate and assist passengers. Again – one person cannot do this. The bus tours we went on were generally good, but on Wednesday, the tour was extended three times in order to keep people off the ship. It wasn’t until a passenger on the bus demanded to be taken back to the ship that we were informed there was no power on the ship and that everyone was taken off. We should have been continually informed of the condition of and on the ship. We felt like hostages, shuttled around to whatever facility in Russe, Bulgaria could accommodate our numbers. We were subjected to a short piano recital in a musty, poorly air-conditioned house. The talent level was adequate, but the piano was severely out of tune. There were insufficient chairs to sit on and the air was full of dust. It should also be noted that we were provided with the same meal – cucumber and tomato salad, vegetable soup, and meat stew for both lunch and dinner two days in a row. We were served lunch and dinner in the same restaurant that day and it had no toilets, just holes in the floor. This was not acceptable given the age of the many of the travelers and their physical limitations. When we finally returned and sailed that evening, it was clear that Embla was not making enough speed. Despite this, nothing was said to passengers until almost 18 hours later. At that point the trip was turned into a hastily arranged bus trip to Belgrade, Serbia (almost 10 hours). We received a letter in our stateroom as we prepared to board the busses to Belgrade Basically, it said, don’t ask about compensation, a basic don’t call us, we will call you response…. This was hardly reassuring given Vikings performance up to that point. Of course, we did receive our bill and an insistence that we settle it before getting on the bus. Fellow passengers were not charged for their bar bills, but nothing was said to those of us that had purchased the beverage package about receiving a refund. This approach appeared to be quite one sided. We have experienced an unfortunate weather delay on another cruise line (Princess). As it was safety related, the Captain chose to stay in port for 3 days. It was an unfortunate, but unavoidable decision. Even though Princess had zero actual culpability for the weather, the entire crew sprang into action, arranging tours, entertainment etc. Most importantly, a very generous compensation offer was received before we departed. By being proactive, Princess turned a difficult situation into a customer loyalty generator. We immediately booked another cruise and have booked several others since that time. We had hoped to develop a similar loyalty relationship with Viking. Moving off Embla was relatively efficient, at the expense of service in the dining room. Tables were not cleared, and it was a mess. We were served on dirty tablecloths and not given napkins. On the epic journey to Serbia, the bus had to detour because of closed roads and stop at a small petrol station (2 stalls) for a rest stop. To say this was disorganized would be a gross understatement. A better option would have been to cancel the trip day 1 and arrange everyone safe onward passage home from Bucharest or assist in making alternate travel plans. The trip to Belgrade was uneventful but long. Lunch was an adequate but uninteresting buffet. Having arrived in Belgrade we checked into the Hyatt Regency. The check in was efficient and fast and the rooms were quite nice. The dinner buffet and the breakfast for the next two days were at best mediocre. As seasoned business travelers, we would rate the food as basic convention food. On the first night each diner was restricted to a single glass of wine or beer of modest quality. Viking made no effort to provide the type of dining experience or entertainment that we would expect on Embla. Any additional drinks or food we wanted we paid for out of pocket despite having the Viking beverage package. The tour of Belgrade was well done and the lunch at Two Deer’s restaurant was very good. As mentioned, this was followed by a mediocre dinner without any effort to entertain or accommodate the guests. Our fellow traveler with the gluten intolerance was at this point left to fend for herself. The bus trip to Budapest was long and arduous. Over 3 hours were wasted at border crossings. The busses had no WIFI and no electrical connection points. For people travelling who had a need to keep in touch with work or relatives back home, this situation was unacceptable. Lunch at the local village homes was decent but rushed due to the delays at the Croatian border. No dietary accommodations were made. We faced a pouring rainstorm in Croatia where it was discovered that the bus roof escape hatch leaked. The bus toilet on this leg of the trip was also out of service. It should be noted that by this time in the journey the poor Cruise Director was beyond shattered. She had lost her voice. More importantly, she had lost her ability to be at all empathetic. She was simply trying to endure until we arrived in Budapest. They failed over 180 passengers as well as failing several dedicated Viking employees. By this time information flow for us and the onward Amsterdam travelers had gone to zero. We just rode on busses. Vikings motto is “Travelling the World in Comfort”. This was an epic failure. We basically felt like we were kept in the dark and held hostage by Viking for almost the entire trip. Once in Budapest we got somewhat back on track. However, our accommodation was changed from the Hotel Intercontinental to the Corinthia. Corinthia is a nice hotel but is not situated along the river and is a long walk from most major attractions. The food served by Corinthia was largely uninteresting and the service was mediocre. The Maitre D’ informed us that he was not given much time to prepare and react and as a result was waiting tables himself. In fact, the exact same meal was provided at the Spoon Restaurant while on tour at lunch and then again in the hotel dining room. Again – Viking was simply reacting, not planning. Upon retiring for the evening, we discovered that our room had no air conditioning. We spoke to Viking’s Desk at the Hotel the next morning. The young man quickly pointed out that the hotel was “completely booked”. Another young lady from Viking stepped in and said she would have a word with the hotel. Upon return that evening, the problem persisted. We went directly to the hotel and they dispatched repairman that evening. Again – Viking staffs’ lack of urgency and total apathy was appalling. We understand that a Vice President of Viking came to Budapest and conducted a meeting for those people that were continuing to Amsterdam. At that time, they were offered compensation. Why was a meeting not held for the rest of us? Total silence is all we received. No apology, no compassion for what we were experiencing, no recognition of our disappointment due to what we anticipated versus what we were experiencing. Upon departure from Budapest for the airport, we were met by Viking staff and rode the Viking bus. The young lady who met us at the airport told us to line up in que 1, 2 or 3 which reflected our airline status (premium economy and Star Alliance Premier Access). Upon opening the check in, the airport officials redirected us to the end of the long economy que. Another nuisance reflecting the lack of training of Viking staff. Of course, by that time, Viking staff had departed the airport, so we got in line and waited. Recommendation – never sail with Viking. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
we chose the cruise as we had not been on the Elbe River. We knew that there had been problems with low water in 2018 but we thought July would be okay, but it was not. A week before the cruise we were told that we would board another ... Read More
we chose the cruise as we had not been on the Elbe River. We knew that there had been problems with low water in 2018 but we thought July would be okay, but it was not. A week before the cruise we were told that we would board another cruise boat & be bused to another one down river for the remainder of our tour. We could have cancelled the tour but decided to go with it anyway. There were about 35 passengers onboard which made for an intimate experience. I recommend to not book a cruise past May. The Elbe is a wild river with no locks to hold water so cruises are dependent on the amount of rain. Food was mostly good with sparking wine at breakfast. We will receive a 50% voucher for a future cruise to compensate us for the non cruise experience. The ship is smaller than others with only 2 levels . I spoke to a couple were not notified that the boat would not move until they arrived at the ship. Viking was sending email to my travel companion but not me. When I asked that I receive emails I was rudely informed that it was not possible! I did not see an elevator. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
This was a 'bucket list' cruise which did not disappoint. We had sailed with Viking in China (5 stars) and this could not compare with that experience. That said, it delivered on all of its promises, with the exception of the ... Read More
This was a 'bucket list' cruise which did not disappoint. We had sailed with Viking in China (5 stars) and this could not compare with that experience. That said, it delivered on all of its promises, with the exception of the hotel accomodation before and after. The experience on the ship was excellent, made better by the seamless planning and execution of the outstanding staff on board. By the end of the week we felt as though we were friends with everybody. Mealtimes were great, with excellent food and attentive service. We gained 5 pounds each! Our room (french balcony) was small but adequate, with a great shower and heated bathroom floor! TV reception was surprisingly good, watching the BBC world news was a treat. We slept well. Coffee and biscuits were always available, and very good! The shore excursions were good, with local guides, some of whom were excellent, none were awful. Highlights were the opportunities to explore on our own - in Mainz the Chagall glass in St Stevens was amazing, and worth the walk to see it. Viking handle the details so well. Luggage was transported efficiently - amazing to see the entire crew (including the Captain!) form a human chain to unload the bags at disembarkation. The only negatives were the choice of hotels before and after. Both were in business districts and somewhat out of the way. Le Meridien in Paris was very disappointing, even though we were upgraded to an Elite room. But it was within walking distance of the Arc de Triomphe and convenient to a Metro station. I can only imagine that this would be a challenging trip for folks with mobility challenges. Lots of walking and stairs would advise careful consideration. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
This was our first River Cruise and one has to remember it's very different from the large liners which we're used to! Cabins smaller, but adequately furnished with well stocked toiletries in the bathroom. Excellent quality ... Read More
This was our first River Cruise and one has to remember it's very different from the large liners which we're used to! Cabins smaller, but adequately furnished with well stocked toiletries in the bathroom. Excellent quality linen and towels and comfy bed (far superior than those in the Hilton in Budapest at the end of the cruise). All the staff were wonderful; so polite, friendly, professional - all the positives. In all the service was excellent. A lovely large deck to sit out on and a quiet library at the back. The dining room was light and airy and food very good. The wines and other drinks (especially the Bellinas!) were excellent. A lounge for entertainment which was very good in the evening, in particular the Dancing Quiz - brilliant!!! A tea/coffee etc. station available outside the lounge, not practical for first thing in the morning. As many, or as few tours could be taken as one wishes. If not, sit in peace on the sun deck and relax. A lot of little touches were provided: face towels when arriving back on board, little drinks when arriving late at night in Budapest. The only downside I can think of was the arrival at Munich for the onward drive to Passu. Left didn't seem to know what the right was doing and we were left hanging around in the airport and outside waiting for the coaches. No one came with us on the coach, hence we weren't told what was going to happen. Relief came when we saw the ship. Also, beforehand our travel agent had been informed by Viking that we may be upgraded to a Verandah suite. Upon looking at the ship, I didn't see any Verandah suites. I would travel with Viking again, especially if Boris was the Programme Director - he was brilliant. Thank you Viking. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
From the start: 1. Corinthian Hotel, Prague - quite a distance from city center, old bed with springs coming though, price for 2-night extension through Viking was $399 per person, price per room through hotel was $100 per night, rude ... Read More
From the start: 1. Corinthian Hotel, Prague - quite a distance from city center, old bed with springs coming though, price for 2-night extension through Viking was $399 per person, price per room through hotel was $100 per night, rude employees, kept requesting toilet paper but ultimately had to take from public WC in lobby. 2. Ship - Booked a balcony room and when our luggage was brought to the room the attendant told us to make sure we didn't open the doors to the balcony because it would let in all the spiders. On two occasions, the ship did not dock were it was supposed to dock and on one occasion we were tied up to another Viking ship whereby our balcony was connected to a french balcony on the other ship which blocked all sunlight during daylight hours. All night, heard voices and the ships rubbing together. Additionally, the river had 44 locks (which was never divulged in any cruise docs) whereby the entire view was a concrete wall which the ship constantly bumped. The sun deck was closed for almost the entirety of the cruise. Food was terrible. One night there was a semi-coiled wire with a sharp edge in the onion soup. 3. Excursions - included excursions required extreme, long walking distances and are not suitable for people with ANY mobility issues. Some tour guides were rude, especially a guide in Cochem that yelled at a traveler that she was too slow and he would not let her continue on the castle tour and town tour. He embarrassed this person so much she was literally in tears. 4. Transport from ship to Paris - Required sitting on a cramped bus for 10 hours. Made a stop in Luxembourg, but again not at the scheduled stop, creating a very long walk to town. The bus would not allow anyone to stay on, so a passenger was forced to sit on a bench at the bus stop for more than 2 1/2 hours because she was unable to walk the more than a mile distance into town. Bus driver further caused complications when he unnecessarily parked as far away as possible from rest stops, etc. Total lack of consideration. 5. Paris - beautiful city, but the hotel Viking uses is lacking. Our view from our room was the loading dock for the hotel. Viking's lack of respect for passengers was shocking. They are not upfront in their advertising. They are overpriced, overrated and insensitive. Viking may be the most advertised river cruise company, but it is certainly not the best. Also note, there really isn't any entertainment or activities on board, so if you have any mobility issues that preclude you from walking more than a mile or two, your trip will be a very boring experience. I would never sail Viking again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
My wife and I have been on numerous cruises (22+) throughout the world on various cruise lines over the years. This was our fourth cruise with Viking; the previous cruises were in China, Egypt and the Grand European Tour. The Paris to ... Read More
My wife and I have been on numerous cruises (22+) throughout the world on various cruise lines over the years. This was our fourth cruise with Viking; the previous cruises were in China, Egypt and the Grand European Tour. The Paris to the Swiss Alps Cruise started in Paris on July 20, 2019. Our flight from Florida was arranged by Viking and flew through Frankfort, then to Paris. No problems. The Viking representative was waiting for us at the airport in Paris. We didn't add the Paris extension because we had been to Paris a few times previously. The Hotel in Paris was one block from the Eiffel Tower … great location. There were many good restaurants in the area and lots of touristy things to do. The Panoramic Tour of Paris was a whirlwind tour with some free time near Notre Dame to walk around. It was a nice tour that included most of the highlights of Paris from a bus. In the afternoon, we had lots of time to tour on our own or to just walk around the Eiffel Tower area. We added the Paris Cabaret with Dinner tour. It was great. The dinner was very good and the entertainment excellent … the type of show you would expect in a Paris Cabaret. The bus trip from Paris to Trier include a stop in Luxembourg then on to Trier. Luxembourg is an interesting city with an good economy and a large World War II cemetery. We learned a lot about the war and also about Luxembourg. Trier too was interesting … a very historic city. The city tour was very nice, as was the free time to tour around on our own. The ice cream in town is excellent. Boarding the Viking Kvasir was very easy in Trier; they were waiting for us. Our room was on the lower level towards the rear of the ship, room 125. This was near a stairway and an ice maker. Most points of interest are on 2 (dining room), 3 (lounge) or the sun deck (the roof). The crew resides on this deck too. Actually, there are no bad locations. The ship was a few years old and was very nice; very clean. The staff was great and the food was excellent. The chef would provide a little discussion of the dinner menu every night and appeared to be excited about the food and his staff. Breakfast was available in the dining room and also on deck 3 in the lounge in a reduced menu. It was similar for lunch. Beer and wine were provided during dinner and lunch. Coffee and cookies were available in two locations 24/7. Food was almost always available someplace. The ship provided complimentary water prior to every tour. The Program Director, Devin, provided information about tours and timing and basically everything you need to know on a timely basis. He even provided entertainment in the evenings when local entertainers were not on board. The ship had one entertainer on board who performed in the lounge several times during the day and in the evenings. He was very professional and an excellent musician. We generally just took the included tours, although we did pay to add the Bernkastel-Kues Wine Tasting. We tasted four wines … nice wine tasting and an interesting winery … cute town. The visited Ports of Call follow. Cochem, Germany – This tour included an entertaining wine tasting. The tasting was divided into two groups, so a lot of people were in one room. The owner ran the tasting and was comical. The city is very clean and very German looking … like of a tourist trap. The tour of the castle was especially interesting from the exterior but nothing too especial from the interior. Koblenz, Germany – The included tour was a walking tour of the city. Koblenz is just another nice looking German city. It was really hot during these tours (104 degrees F). After the tour, all we wanted to do was go back to the ship and cool off in our rooms. The temperature set the tone for the tour. Mainz, Germany – The included tour was primarily the Gutenberg Museum. It was very impressive with an interesting demonstration of the operation of the press. The tour include a few great churches too. Again, it was hot! Speyer, Germany – The included tour was similar to the Mainz walk around. Just another nice German town along the river with huge churches. It was HOT. Strasbourg, France – It's beginning to cool off a bit. Strasbourg is a very German city, but in France. It is different from the prior river cities visited, more interesting huge cathedrals. This is a good city to just walk around and explore. Strasbourg has great pastries. Basel, Switzerland – The weather is much better. The included tour of the city, both the bus and walking tours were very nice. A local guide conducted the tour. We had a nice lunch in town and enjoyed a Swiss beer. We then had a one hour bus ride to Zurich. It's interesting that the wages are high in Switzerland, the shopping is cheap in Germany and the living costs are lowest in France. Basel, being on the border of all three countries, benefits from all three. Zurich, Switzerland – The included tour included a tour of the lake in the morning … very nice. The city tour was interesting and we had lots of free time to explore the city in the afternoon. We are now off the boat and staying in a very nice hotel. Zurich is a nice city to visit. For many people, this was the end of the tour. We continued on to explore the mountains. This is a must do! The Glacier Express – We started the day on a bus to Chur to board the train. Our new guide, Astrid, was fantastic. She was from The Netherlands, but spoke perfect English, in addition to I don't know how many other languages. The train went through mountains and valleys that were just beautiful. It even stopped a few times for us to get out and take photos. The day started out cloudy but as we got closer to Zermatt, the skies cleared. Fantastic Day! Zermatt – The day started with another train; a cog-wheel to Gornergrat. The top of the mountain was over 10,000 feet and the views were out of this world. This was an unbelievably beautiful experience. The skies were a clear blue and the Matterhorn was so close you could almost touch it. Our photos are beautiful. Our guide, Astrid, showed us the most important views and also, took us to a lake to take photos of the Matterhorn. Some of us walked with her down to a little restaurant for a nice lunch in the mountains … next to the Matterhorn. Again, the photos are fantastic. This tour is a must do! Geneva, Switzerland – We left Zermatt on a train and then transferred to a bus to Geneva. On the way we stopped at a winery. This winery is at a beautiful location, the wines were good as was the lunch. The views from this winery were fantastic. Continuing to Geneva was on a bus. The hotel was very nice and the extension included tour on the lake. The tour included a bus and walking tour of the city. We also toured the Red Cross Museum. In the afternoon, we were free to explore on our own. We took a bus to France and took a gondola to an overlook of the city. On the overlook we had a nice lunch and also watched people hang gliding. Geneva is a fun city in Switzerland, surrounded by France. An easy city to get around by bus. Overall, the cruise and additional time in Switzerland was wonderful. You will see too many locks, vineyards, palaces, churches and castles; but you will meet many very nice people on the ship and also, tour guides and locals. You will also walk …. a lot. The joke on the ship was that this tour included the three Cs: Churches, Castles and Cobblestones. Most cities in this tour are paved in cobblestone … so bring good walking shoes. Viking really took good care of us; they were always there to make sure everything was taken care of during the trip. They really seemed to care. A great trip. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
Ship rooms comfortable and elegent. Ships food- top notch. Crew Service-exempliary. Above and beyond, near fanatical in ensuring you want for nothing that they can provide. All you need do on a Viking Cruise is sleep, get up and ... Read More
Ship rooms comfortable and elegent. Ships food- top notch. Crew Service-exempliary. Above and beyond, near fanatical in ensuring you want for nothing that they can provide. All you need do on a Viking Cruise is sleep, get up and slog off to a tremendous breakfast selection. Then go back to your stateroom and get ready for the tours they will take you on, fully arranged of course. They fgeed you some wonderful lunch somewhere or catch you own. After touring and walking about in new places, return to the ship for a 5 star meal. The bar is always open and great beers flow. Sit in laxurious lounge to view the fabulous scenery from a riverboat. Enjoy the evening river sights and smeels with new friends, good beer and great cigars. It just doesnt get any better. Viking strives to handle any and all logistics related to travel and to make your experience enriching. They sure did. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We just returned from a one week cruise on the Viking Atla. The cruise and destinations are beautiful and interesting; however I want to talk more about the ship and the staff. The ship was built in 2013 and is beginning to show its ... Read More
We just returned from a one week cruise on the Viking Atla. The cruise and destinations are beautiful and interesting; however I want to talk more about the ship and the staff. The ship was built in 2013 and is beginning to show its age; however it is meticulously maintained. We have done river cruises with other companies and we found the layout of the Viking longships to be the best we have experienced. We particularly liked the rooftop and the Aquavit Terrace as they were perfect for cruising down the river, Despite varying water levels on the Danube, the captain and his crew managed to sail from Budapest to Nurembreg with only minor schedule changes. Michael, the program director, worked with the captain and cruise staff to minimize interruptions and to keep us informed. His cruise staff kept everything in order and the shore side guides were excellent. The food was varied and of excellent quality. Our thanks to the head chef and his team. The hotel department was also excellent and our room was always clean and prepared with no interruption to ourselves. The front desk was always helpful. The entire staff was always friendly and warmly met us everywhere went. Kudos to Viking. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
brochures and promo not accurate. We knew low bridges would restrict us from using the sun deck at time. But not for days on end. We knew at some ports of call we would be double and triple banked. It happened too many times to be ... Read More
brochures and promo not accurate. We knew low bridges would restrict us from using the sun deck at time. But not for days on end. We knew at some ports of call we would be double and triple banked. It happened too many times to be comfortable. So don’t get a Balcony. All this information should be spelt out and told how many times it would happen. in the promo. Cologne was the only port we had local entertainers in the Evening. Unfortunate we missed it due to going on an evening excursion. Promo gives you the impression this happened every night. Where possible. Our Entertainment Director Kane was brilliant so he made up for the disappointment. Could not fault staff. Staff brilliant food good enough could we have a chocolate treat with coffee. tours OK I got churched out talked out and walked out in the end. I thought the quiet vox was a device so you could wander around the sights by yourself if you did not want to be hearded like sheep around the sights, I stayed with tour group in case I missed out on something amazing. And the fear of getting lost. Make sure you have plenty of 50c Euro coins for toilets. overall enjoyed my trip. We made the Journey without changing boat. We were the last boat to do this from to Passau. The band was very average but the nights where Kane had quizzes and trivia were hilarious. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and timing within the year so that 14 of us could take a family trip. (Parents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Friends). The Viking reservation and airfare staff were wonderful in helping us to ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and timing within the year so that 14 of us could take a family trip. (Parents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Friends). The Viking reservation and airfare staff were wonderful in helping us to coordinate such a large group trip. Besides the great excursions, scenic sailing, and wonderful food, it was the ship’s staff that truly made this experience the trip of a lifetime. Everyone knew we were a large group and went out of their way to accommodate us for meals together and to keep us together for the various excursions. The system for shore excursions is so well organized. The hearing devices for the tour worked well so that you could hear the tour guide without having to be right next to them. In other words, you could wonder off a bit taking photos but still hear the guide. We can’t say enough about the staff. The dining staff knew our likes and dislikes almost within the first day. Thank you to our waiters Viktor, Sarah, and Miroslav for great dining experiences. They were so great during our first meal that we made sure to sit in their section for lunch and dinner the rest of the trip! Sasha took care of our room meticulously. By the time we came back from breakfast, the room would be cleaned and the bed made. Korana went out of her way to help me shop on another Viking ship that had different clothing and she offered to gift wrap a necklace I purchased as well. Ivana, the Hotel Manager, always had a smile greeting us as we got back from our excursions. She answered guests questions and kept everything in excellent order. Boris, the Program Director, provided insight and information about our upcoming experiences, and he did this with great enthusiasm and lots of humor. Emil, the Maitre D, made sure the meal and beverage services were top notch. Lagos, the Captain, provided a detailed tour of the bridge and how he navigates the ship with such great skill. We would definitely go again on a Viking River cruise and would hope to see the same wonderful staff! Read Less
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