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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
The Viking ship is gorgeous with a very modern, sleek design. Outstanding that Viking makes the SPA area available to everyone which includes their sauna, steam room, SNOW room, therapy pool, etc. You only pay for personal services, such ... Read More
The Viking ship is gorgeous with a very modern, sleek design. Outstanding that Viking makes the SPA area available to everyone which includes their sauna, steam room, SNOW room, therapy pool, etc. You only pay for personal services, such as massages. This is so much better than most cruise lines that require you to pay a Spa fee just to use their spa area. The general Restaurant was very good. We prefer to eat "when you want" approach and we never really had to wait more than a few minutes. We had a choice of eating at a table for two or with a group which was nice. Excellent menus. Really liked their specialty restaurant, called Manifredi's. Their other specialty restaurant, The Chef's Table, was a bit too "fancy" for our tastes and you did not have a choice of menu. Good experience though to eat foods we have not tried before. We like the Viking approach of including excursions for each port as part of the basic cruise fee, but then also providing optional excursions that you pay extra for. We went on an excursion at every port, although this itinerary could have used a "Sea Day" for people to catch their breath. Several guests commented that this was the most port intensive itinerary they have been on which is great if you like lots of walking and activity. Some of the excursions involved much more walking that their description implied which was a problem for me who walks with a cane. Their excursion descriptions need to be more specific in terms of walking requirements. Most of the excursions we chose to pay extra for were great, but I would not recommend the boat option to see caves near Corfu - not worth the money. Crew and staff were excellent and always very helpful. Yes, we will travel with Viking on an ocean or river cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2016
This was my third Viking Cruise. I love the ship, ports, friendly staff, excellent cuisine. I could go on and on. I just keep coming back for more. Embarkation was well organized and efficient. Love Port Talks. Attend as many as ... Read More
This was my third Viking Cruise. I love the ship, ports, friendly staff, excellent cuisine. I could go on and on. I just keep coming back for more. Embarkation was well organized and efficient. Love Port Talks. Attend as many as possible. Those not attended were watched on the video feed. The ship was beautiful. It was well maintained and staff were always cleaning, painting scuffed areas. The staff was very accommodating and friendly. Any request was granted. The wines that were paired with the meals were excellent. Let me say that the Gelato was a big seller, always lines at that counter. Food was outstanding and they always offered something new and interesting. Enjoyed the Italian theme one night, the fresh fish fry, all just wonderful. The cruise director was also a gem. She had a beautiful voice and joined in the entertainment. We will keep coming back to Viking for more cruises. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2016
We had already enjoyed several VIking RIver cruises and we were curious to see a part of the world where we had never been before. Seeing Croatia, Greece, Montenegro, Slovenia etc were unique and full of history and some amazing towns and ... Read More
We had already enjoyed several VIking RIver cruises and we were curious to see a part of the world where we had never been before. Seeing Croatia, Greece, Montenegro, Slovenia etc were unique and full of history and some amazing towns and countryside. The Viking Sea (VS) was an amazing experience in itself. While it carries over 900 people, it felt less crowded and more personal than even the new Viking Longships. The VS has so many special places designed for getting away and just enjoying /relaxing. The choices for eating fit every possible preference from casual to formal and there were limitless varieties of food to choose from. Both the quality of the food and the staff that served it could not have been better. Two of the perks that the ocean ships have over the river ships, is a laundry and a medical clinic. Both great additions to the sailing experience. I was a bit concerned about sailing in the ocean as opposed to a river, but the VS was so smooth, that even with white caps on the water nor at night did we feel anything. Our one major suggestion to VIking would be that more detailed information was provided concerning the optional tours. Even just providing the time spent driving to the destinations would be very helpful. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
We are experienced travelers and usually prefer to drive, however this is not practical along the Dalmatian coast. A small ship like La Belle de l'adriatique is the perfect way to see Croatia and Montenegro. It was able to dock where ... Read More
We are experienced travelers and usually prefer to drive, however this is not practical along the Dalmatian coast. A small ship like La Belle de l'adriatique is the perfect way to see Croatia and Montenegro. It was able to dock where the large ships can not allowing easy access to the smaller towns and islands such as Mljet, sibernik , korcula and hvar. Of course Dubrovnik, Split and Kotor are the gems of that area. We were very pleased with TheCroiseEurope cruise line. We tend to explore on our own so we did not take advantage of the excursions. The crew was very friendly and all spoke English perfectly, so language was not a problem. Many of the crew were local and liked to talk about their homeland, adding a nice touch. The food was excellent. The staterooms adequate. I personally liked the informal dress code. Getting to the ship was easy and we were allowed to check-in early. Disembarkation was also particularly easy. I would highly recommend this ship to tour this area. Joe from Port Jeff Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
If you have booked this cruise, you will have to go and enjoy which we tried to do, as was too late for us It is a FERRY BOAT not a cruise; the facilities ie so called swimming pool for which there is only one is 21 feet long, sunbeds are ... Read More
If you have booked this cruise, you will have to go and enjoy which we tried to do, as was too late for us It is a FERRY BOAT not a cruise; the facilities ie so called swimming pool for which there is only one is 21 feet long, sunbeds are 1.2 inch apart, people everywhere, 2 buffett restaurants which serve mainly the same food; terrible people eating everything in sight, hardly anything is cooked it is all packaged and put in the oven, the cabins are awful, together with the areas on the ferry boat. Entertainment team is just the ships entertainment team whom were very good, but do not expect too many other outside entertainment. They have a theatre, hurrendous pub and bingo on site(lovely); full of people with hardly any with any calibre or self respects, largest bellies ever; clothing was awful. The pricing is hurrendous for this cruise, when it is dearer than the top 5 proper cruise companies.... this is not a cruise in any shape or form. GOOD POINT: STaff are relatively friendly(not overboard), captain was present on a few occassions and praised all his team   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
My wife and I flew from Australia in Business Class on the 10th of June 2013 as part of four months travel throughout Europe beginning with a two week Viking River Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest and the Viking River Cruise formed the ... Read More
My wife and I flew from Australia in Business Class on the 10th of June 2013 as part of four months travel throughout Europe beginning with a two week Viking River Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest and the Viking River Cruise formed the beginning of our journey which was supposed to allow us to relax onboard for two weeks, before embarking independently, for three and a half months throughout Europe and everything was booked and paid for accordingly prior to leaving Australia. Six days prior to flying out of Australia, I discovered on SBS news on the 4th of June that there was flooding occurring in and around Bohemia so I emailed both Vacations To Go (who we booked the river cruise with) and Viking River Cruises to get an up date as to what was going to happen as a result and that my wife and I were not interested in an altered bus and river cruise scenario at the last minute, so we wanted information sooner so we could have the time before flying out of Australia to plan an alternative cruise which was not going to be affected by the floods, for example, sailing through the Fjords of Denmark, Sweden and Norway as we were going to be in Amsterdam. We were offered a last minute cancellation or a 50% credit voucher of the total amount paid which is not transferable to be used within 12 months off any future Viking River Cruises which we made both Viking and Vacations TO Go very clear, that we were not in a position to look, at as my wife has Melanoma Cancer and this trip, was the trip and was planned accordingly. We asked both organisations if we took up the cancellation offer, what was the actual amount that we would be refunded, who would be refunding the money and when would the refund amount be actioned so we could plan alternative arrangements as we only had few hours before having to check out of our hotel in Amsterdam, leaving us with a two week hole in our itinerary in the middle of a European summer with no place to go and a $13923 hole in our budget. All along we emailed both organisations wanting to know who was going to refund us the money, how much was the actual amount going to be and when was it going to hit my credit card or bank? We have even gone to the Vice President of Viking River Cruises as we were instructed to by Vacations To Go and to date, haven't even got a reply. Viking wanted to know from Vacations To Go what amount we had paid even though the amount was paid via AMEX directly to Viking? Consequently we did not get answers regarding the cancellation so we were left with no option but to board the Viking Skadi on the 22nd of June 2013 and sail to Frankfurt before being bused around which was not part of our plan. All of this email dialogue was taking place after 2 a.m. Amsterdam time and we were due to board that day! Still to this day we are none the wiser and in fact got an email from the Customer Service Manager of the Australian branch of Viking River Cruises on August 23rd which stated that as the cruise proceeded in a modified form, had we in fact cancelled, we would have forfeited all monies paid which amounted to $13,923. So our decision to board the vessel was totally justified, what else could we have done? We have subsequently asked both organisations to consider giving us the credit voucher amount back in monetary terms but they have ignored our requests and the sensitivity of our situation. We both feel that we were given a false sense of a credit when in fact they had no intention to cancel as they were only ever going to do a combination bus and river cruise and as they had a captive audience, they had all the cards stacked in their favour and used them accordingly. The modified land portion of the river cruise (four days & nights), which included a bus tour, with accommodation and food were appalling and of a two star rating as we had paid for a five star vessel with cabin that included a private balcony. All my wife and I wanted was the actual information regarding money back so we could make the decision earlier and avoid what was and has been the worst travel experience both of us seasoned travellers have ever endured. Fellow travellers: " You have been warned"....If travelling with Viking "travel at your own peril" Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2013
This was our second Viking River Cruise.The first on the Aegir. We had a room downstairs that was below water level,which made me search out escape routes before we left port.2 ways out. We stopped in Belgrade and were showen bullet ... Read More
This was our second Viking River Cruise.The first on the Aegir. We had a room downstairs that was below water level,which made me search out escape routes before we left port.2 ways out. We stopped in Belgrade and were showen bullet ridden buildings.Returning to the boat there was no security check and the gangway remained unmaned all night. There were a lot of Buffet meals. The cabin was tiny ,just bigger than the bed two singles beds,pushed together. Advertised as a Romantic Danube Cruise ,it was anything but romantic, with war stories and comunnism the main theme The scenery was nice if you dont mind a polutted river. I think it will be a few more years ,for this part of the world to get it together Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
We had a great direct flight from Atlanta to Zurich and then 10 minutes van ride to Avalon arranged hotel at Movenpick Hotel. Wonderful hotel with good restaurant and easy access to trains to go downtown to Zurich. Spent 4 nights there to ... Read More
We had a great direct flight from Atlanta to Zurich and then 10 minutes van ride to Avalon arranged hotel at Movenpick Hotel. Wonderful hotel with good restaurant and easy access to trains to go downtown to Zurich. Spent 4 nights there to see Alps and other sights with a distant relative being our special guide. Then took a nice excursion with Avalon on boarding day to Mt Pilatus and Lucerne. Sadly the top was socked in, but still a great trip and got to know 12 other couples pretty well before boarding. Took us from excursion directly to ship. Our bus broke down, but they handled it seamlessly. Lucerne is great. Our suite (one of 4 on Affinity) was great. Also close to back lounge which has a great 24/7 coffee machine and snacks.All meals were great with ample selection options and super friendly staff. Breakfast was a nice buffet with fresh fruits/cereals/eggs to order/cheeses/ and always a special. Lunch also a buffet with specials. Dessert always included 2 flavors of home-made ice cream. Dinner is served to you and you select from options -- always have some attractive options and free wines and Beck beer on tap. You decide where and with whom you eat - great way to mingle and meet great new people - a real high light. Entertainment was limited as expected, but always fun. Famous zither player, a talented accordion player, fantastic electric violinist -- never expected I would like that. Wonderful night in Vienna with a great show with Viennese waltzes played by talented musicians in a beautiful setting. We also loved Salzburg and Sound of Music tour, Heidelberg, and Durnstein. All villages/cities were fun. 70 locks on this trip.Cannot think of any town/city we did not enjoy - fun to just walk around. My wive, a talented pianist, enjoyed Salzburg and Vienna with emphasis on music and insights on Mozart. Return flight thru Charles de Gaulle was a bad experience and with 90 minutes, we still almost missed our flight. Will try to avoid this in the future. Overall, we would sure use Avalon again. Our cruise director was very dedicated and helpful Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2011
We took this cruise August, 2011(St. Petersburg to Moscow). First, let me say that I have only been on 2 ocean cruises prior to this Viking cruise and cruising is not my preferred vacation style. That being said, we were invited by dear ... Read More
We took this cruise August, 2011(St. Petersburg to Moscow). First, let me say that I have only been on 2 ocean cruises prior to this Viking cruise and cruising is not my preferred vacation style. That being said, we were invited by dear friends to join them on this river cruise in Russia. I read the various trip reports and I am amazed how my opinion differs from many reviewers. The ship I was on (Pakhomov) looks like it has been renamed in 2012 to Ingva. On other cruise lines there appear to be a variety of nationalities on board - but our ship was exclusively Americans. Given the way you are herded back and forth on buses - you could actually spend 13 days in Russia and never speak to anyone but an American (unless of course you get away from the ship/bus and make your own way - which we did). My companions and I found the food barely tolerable. When in major cities (St. Petersburg and Moscow) we only ate breakfast on the ship. Although my expectations were low - they were not low enough and paying for our meals was the least of our issues. My #1 complaint is the extreme distance river cruise ships have to dock from the major ports. This is a complete waste of your vacation time and sitting in gridlocked traffic in Moscow for hours will make you scream. We quickly learned the excellent St. Petersburg and Moscow metro systems and used the ship more as just a place to sleep. The hardest part of the trip was the 5 day cruise between major cities. I though river cruising would be smooth - however when we went across major lakes - the ship rocked so hard and created such loud noise in our cabin (#428) we were awake most of the night. Finally, do NOT take the airport transfer ripoff. In Moscow, they wanted us to board the bus at 8am for a 2pm flight. We skipped the bus ($120) and took a 10:30am taxi ($45) to the airport and arrived easily in time for the flight. We ran into others from our ship that had been sitting in the airport for 5 HOURS. If you really want to experience Russia - don't take this river cruise. Get a good travel agent with local contacts and get out to meet the Russian people. They are amazing.... Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
To give some background to our trip - I was born in Odessa Ukraine, and have been contemplating for some time to introduce my wife to the city and the country of which she heard so much. The Odessa-Kiev cruise on Viking Lomonosov provided ... Read More
To give some background to our trip - I was born in Odessa Ukraine, and have been contemplating for some time to introduce my wife to the city and the country of which she heard so much. The Odessa-Kiev cruise on Viking Lomonosov provided a possibility to do so with an added bonus of "highlighting" Crimea as well. The ship is very simple -â€" library, 2 bars (one forward and one aft), 2 restaurants (while we were assigned to Kiev restaurant the seating is open for all meals which gives you a chance to mingle with fellow passengers) and a sun deck -â€" otherwise just a hallways with cabins on both sides (4 decks total). Our cabin (229) was 90 sq.ft -â€" the TINIEST we've ever seen J but we were able to get everything out of suitcases and store them away with no problem so it was quite cozy and comfy (besides its not like we spent TOO much time in it) Actually it turned out to be a good location since all the cabins have a large window but all are overlooking a given deck so one has to be mindful of the situation least some fellow cruisers will catch you de-flagrante J The Main deck is "Crew" deck -â€" so we hardly had anyone moving past our window and we were literally steps away from the Front Desk and the disembarking doors (proves a good thing when the crowds begin to gather to go ashore) BY FAR -â€" it is the most passive cruise EVER! There is no "activities" on board for those mornings\afternoons that you are cruising -â€" I reckon the idea is for you to sit on the deck and soak up the scenery...but then you kinda ease in into this "lazy" lifestyle...and if need be -â€" there are books and games in library, they were showing movies on TV (mostly tapes not live but that's OK) and there were appropriate lectures on Ukraine History in general and ports-of-call when appropriate. Food was AWESOME (surprisingly I did not gain an ounce case you KNOW I was eating like a pig (or make it 2 pigs) J). They are also liberal with that wine that comes as a part of the package -â€" once its starts flowing you can ask for refills and they will give it to you no questions asked. The drinks at the bar are good (the best LIIT I've ever tasted) and they use top shelf brands (drink of the day was about 55 UAH). Draft beer (Slavutitch -â€" Ukrainian Beer) is very good and actually is cheaper than Coke (28 UAH vs 30 UAH for the same size glass) Speaking of Coke -â€" all soft drinks are charged even during the meals. At the same - water and iced tea are available with meals, 4 juices are there for breakfast and there is a coffee machine on Middle Deck that works 24/7 (and like I said -â€" wine is flowing during the dinner) so we were not hurting for soda. They also give you a 1 liter bottle of water in the cabin (if need be -â€" replenished every day). And there is no limit on stuff you can buy while in port and bring back into cabin (there is a small fridge). You KNOW some folks were dragging booze in on daily basis J If you want to serve it at the dinner though -â€" its 80 UAH cork fee charge. The stuff is very friendly and helpful but their English is limited -â€" if you "overstep the boundaries" by asking some unfamiliar question -â€" they will give you a blank look and say Yes (with the same friendly smile.... But that's about it) The weather while in Odessa and Crimea was just perfect! Couple of showers but kinda "passing by" or we hit everything at the right time (rained while we were in transit or inside the building) so that was not an issue aside carting the jackets with us some days and the temps were in upper 70s to upper 80s The 1st days into the river it did change to cooler (upper 50s -â€" mid 60s) but bearable. Unfortunately 1 day was a complete wash out - we were lucky that we just finished watching the Cossack Horse Show when the skies literally opened up and we were shooed-in back onto buses thus cutting short the rest of the visit (kinda was a bummer since this was on Khortitsa Island where Ukrainian (Zaporozhye) Cossacks started from as I was looking forward to view some of the fortifications and such) and the next 2 were kinda gloomy as well (it would periodically drizzle on and off -â€" just enough to be a slight nuisance here-and-there). But by the time we got to Kiev it was all nice and sunny again The "included" tours...well... they just cemented my reason of trying to stay away from organized tours (but then it is exactly the reason why I DO stay away from them). You are assigned the bus in the beginning of the cruise so the same driver and guide will be with you for duration. There were 28 people on our bus (it does not seem like the cruise was sold-out) and most of the folks are in their 70s so... time to get on get off... and pretty much running through museums and other exhibits -â€" not much you can do just go with the flow. (Be prepared to hear & see a lot of WWII (or as they call it The Great Patriotic War) stuff esp. since they are celebrating 65 years of VE Day this year) That said I was only too happy that I hired a private guide for all 4 days in Crimea. He was a great guy, had his own A\Cd little car (which did come handy in some places that the bus would not even DREAM to go through), very knowledgeable, enthusiastic and ... just everything you want to ask for in a guide! To make a long story short -â€" we hit EVERY place that Viking advertized as "optional" tours (even when one had to choose between "tour 1" or "tour 2") and THEN SOME! He got us into places that are closed to tourist crowds and pretty much I got everything I wished for (the only thing that was on my list that I didn't get to do was to take a cable car to the top of Ai-Petri (St Peter's) Mountain but that's only because Viking told me that the ship would be leaving Yalta at 2:00 pm and it actually did at 1:00 pm -â€" which lost us that hour and is not in any way Sergey's (the guide's) fault). All in all I paid him $510.00 $50.00 of which was a tip and was also paying whatever the entry fees to places were. So maybe the whole experience ran me $600-650 (tops) but again it was well worth it for me because of what we saw & did vs what the rest of the crowd did (or, obviously -â€" didn't). If you are interested -â€" contact him at sergo22yalta at gmail.com (again his name is Sergey). You most certainly can tell him that I recommended J To highlight one examle of what I just told you -â€" I have photos of me sitting in Stalin's cabinet behind his desk and Sergey and I in Molotov's quarters - both are taken at Yusupov's Palace which was where Russian Delegation was HQ'd during Yalta Conference (US Delegation was at Livadia (White) Palace (included in Itinerary) and Brits were at Vorontzov's (Alupka) Palace -â€" optional tour). The place originally belonged to Prince Felix Yusupov's parents and the big claim to fame here is that Price Felix is the one who murdered Rasputin In any case -â€" nothing that any other fellow cruiser even dreamt of remotely seeing.... There is not much to see & do in Dnepropetrovsk and Kremenchug -â€" they are just "1/2-dead monuments" to Soviet industry and I honestly have no idea as to why they are on the itinerary (I'd much more to skip one or both of them and spent that time in Kiev) but I'm not the one who makes the itinerary. No matter what -â€" the time in Kiev is simply NOT ENOUGH so make the best of what you'll see on organized tours! The ship arrives in Kiev shortly after lunch and you practically immediately carted off onto the tours of St. Sophia Cathedral and the Kiev_Pecherskaya Monastery of the Caves (once more - NOT ENOUGH TIME AT ALL!!!!) Upon the reurn - you have a choice -â€" either free time (shopping etc) or take a Jewish Kiev tour (to Babi Yar and the Main Synagogue). The tour is not advertized in Viking brochures and is 330 UAH pp; lasts approximately 2 hours and is a somber experience if you are familiar with the Babi Yar (done with a very knowledgeable English speaking local guide) I spent about $300.00 in tips all around (ship personnel and local guides) and ran up perhaps a $150.00 bill on board which included the above tour and some souvenirs. -â€" again PITTANCE since it was all in Hrivnas I also have to mention that they take away your passports for the duration of the cruise (no reason to make any scenes or protests as that wont help any) they give you some tail of a whale about customs but it's a lie -â€" probably a left-over appendix from "good old" Soviet times. In any case -â€" they give you a card (one per person) with your name, cabin # and bus # instead and it serves as your ID and also a "whereabouts" tool inasmuch as that you have to give them your cabin key for these cards every time you go ashore and thus exchange back upon return -â€" so they can see if anyone is "still out". They are not computerized at all in that sense -â€" all on board stuff is still done via signing individual purchase receipts. Once your bill is settled (last "cruising" morning on the way to Kiev) -â€" you get the passports back. At the last day I simply decided not to go through the hustle of haggling with either cab drivers or hackers about the fare to Borispol Airport and just let the Front Desk order me one of their "affiliate" cabs. The taxi was there 10 mins before the scheduled time - nice, clean & comfortable car. The trip took about 40 mins and the fare was 300.00 UAH (+ 30 UAH tip). Thus - as far as my "transfers" go I think I beat the Viking price hands down.... So in conclusion -â€" there are some setbacks but on the overall -â€" a very worthy experience. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2009
We have just returned from a River Cruise on the Avalon Scenery July 26 - Aug. 4th Paris to Nice. Let me start out by saying we were a bit apprehensive since this was our first river cruise, we have been on 7 big cruise ship voyages prior, ... Read More
We have just returned from a River Cruise on the Avalon Scenery July 26 - Aug. 4th Paris to Nice. Let me start out by saying we were a bit apprehensive since this was our first river cruise, we have been on 7 big cruise ship voyages prior, and we do love large ship cruises. We arrived in Paris two days earlier and stayed at the Marriott Rive Gauche, great hotel, and although not in the immediate center of Paris, the location was walking distance from the metro (very easy to navigate)and lots of shops and places to eat. We then joined our group on Sunday and transferred over to the hotel Le Meridien, Montparnasse, which was part of the Avalon tour accomodation. Too bad, the Le Meridien could not hold a candle to the Marriott. Avalon offered a bus tour of Paris on Monday, but since we have already been in Paris for 3 days already, we decided to do our own thing for the day,as I said the Metro is so easy to get around and very inexpensive. Breakfast was included with the Le Meridien and it was very nice. Tues. morning we boarded our bus for the trip to Chalon-sur-Saone, with a stop in Beaune, quaint little town where we had a choice to visit Hospice de Beaune or wine tasting tour, we decided on the Hospice. We then continued on to board our boat. I won't continue about all the stops we made on the way to Nice. I will say the places we visited were amazing, in some cases it was like stepping back in time the quaint towns and scenic beauty cannot be described adequately. About the boat, our state room was one with a french balcony, but we could not open our slider because of the flys etc. There was plenty of room for our things and the room very comfortable. They gave us complementry bottles of water every day. I will say the food was very good, morning was a buffet as was lunch with good choices. Dinner was from a menu with meat, fish or veg. choice. My problem was the fact one could not get anything to eat in between, we had to wait till the appointed hour when the dining room would be open for luch or dinner. True in the afternoon for one hour they had a coffee/tea and cake service but if you were not there you were out of luck. Most days the majority of the boat would be out on tours and when we returned the coffee and cake were no where to be seen. So from about 4 o'clock till 7:30 you were out of luck. True in the rear lounge cookies (from the tin) were always available but it would have been nice if they had an assosrtment of pasteries and home made cookies instead those cookies no one ever ate. Breakfast and lunch the food was plentiful but dinner entrees were a tease. One night at dinner I placed my order and asked for a side order of the pasta (which was veggie. choice) and that seemed to confuse them, hence, no pasta. I had also read that at the end of the meal they would come around with platters of seconds if anyone wanted, but that did not materialize. I think Avalon should rethink some of it's food availablity. I understand the galley is small and limited but food is a very big part of the enjoyment of the vacation. Wine was served at dinner and it flowed freely. The staff on the boat were top notch, very hard working young people and they deserve to be acknowledged. When we arrived in Nice we had to wait a few hours before our rooms would be available. We stayed at the Hotel Boscolo Plaza. When we walked in the lobby we thought wow, nice hotel. Not so fast, Our first hint was in the elevator very small and inatiquate. The hallway on our floor kind of reminded us of the "Tower of Terror" in disney world, old, musty and in serious need of updating and let me tell you, our room was no better. The mirror was cracked as was the tub. We had one chair in the room, a kind of desk chair with plastic seat, the ac was ineffective. The included breakfast the next morning was the worst meal of or stay in France. Not a very nice hotel and I would not recommend anyone to stay there. There was an optional tour in Nice and I say GO FOR IT, "An Evening In Monaco" worth every penny 85 Euro. Our favorite tour of the week. In summary - I would highly recommend the river cruise, you get all the benefits of a land tour without the hassel of on/off bus, different hotel every day, packing and unpacking. In fact I would call this a river/land tour with no hassel. We met some wonderful people from around the world and it is a vacation that will leave a fond imprint on my memory. We are looking forward to booking another river cruise in the near future. And......we still love large ship cruising, I guess you might say, we're addicted Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2008
We cruised from Nurnberg to Budapest-8 days in September 2008- with 2 Aussie friends. The ship had 140 out of 150 and was 50+ age group, mainly Americans, some Canadians, Australians and others. Points- * cruise-the top deck is closed ... Read More
We cruised from Nurnberg to Budapest-8 days in September 2008- with 2 Aussie friends. The ship had 140 out of 150 and was 50+ age group, mainly Americans, some Canadians, Australians and others. Points- * cruise-the top deck is closed for the first 1.5 days due to bridge low clearances,most cruising of a night, only 2 afternoons cruising-limited scenery,very quiet. sum:fair * food was extensive, varied, reasonable portions, catered for preadvised special requirements,a variety of wine and price, no fixed seating so your choice.sum: 4 star * cabins-good size, quiet except for neighbor flushing, mirrors, sliding window, good storage space, well serviced.sum: very good * excursions- quite a few, local guides generally OK,preset bus allocation,too much emphasis on churches & the slowest moving person(did cater for special needs)and fixed in sites shown-needs 1 of 3 buses to do something different on shore, time allocated was fine.sum:OK but room for improvement * cruise staff-captain needs to at least speak 6 words in ENGLISH(advertised as english speaking tour), tour director focuses on favorite people,assistant director more people orientated, hospitality staff very good,some pressure for acceptable gratuity. sum: improvement necessary *overall-good value for money, basically OK but needing only some refinements to get a higher grading General:cruise is not a "rest" style, is OK if you like a sample sightseeing of main cities-Nurnberg, Vienna, Budapest,the scenery is nothing special(the Rhine is more interesting), the ship seemed above average of other lines. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
WINDMILLS AND TULIPS CRUISE Viking Sky, April 16-28, 2008 It was with some concern that we boarded our flight to Amsterdam to begin our Windmills and Tulips cruise since the weather reports for the previous month had been consistent: ... Read More
WINDMILLS AND TULIPS CRUISE Viking Sky, April 16-28, 2008 It was with some concern that we boarded our flight to Amsterdam to begin our Windmills and Tulips cruise since the weather reports for the previous month had been consistent: cloudy, rainy with temperatures in the 40s and low 50s. How could flowers bloom in this weather? But, optimism is a must when traveling, so after packing warm and rainproof items, we left for Amsterdam where we had made our own arrangements for a 3 day pre-cruise stay. We flew Lufthansa, one of the few good airlines left, because we could get a direct flight from Charlotte, NC to Munich, connecting to Amsterdam, thus avoiding the plague of Philadelphia, Newark or JFK Airports. Our flights were right on time, and we arrived in Amsterdam around 1 pm local time. We opted to take the train into town, since a taxi ran about 45 Euros while the fare for two on the train was a little over 7 Euros! (That may have been the only bargain that we found the entire trip!) The trains run to the central station 4 times an hour, and the trip takes only about 20 minutes. Other than the hassle of schlepping our bags down the escalator and onto the train, the trip was convenient and easy. A short cab ride to the hotel completed our trip. In Amsterdam, we stayed at the Ambassade , a lovely small hotel on the Herengracht Canal. The hotel rooms are in several buildings, restored on the inside but maintaining the traditional look and style of old Amsterdam on the outside. Our room was light and airy, overlooking the canal and in a quiet location. Service at the hotel was excellent, and the breakfasts were tasty and convenient. We hit all the usual tourist highlights, museums and canals. The Ann Frank House is always crowded during the day, but we went around 6 one evening and walked right in. We also wanted to make sure that we saw Keukenhof Gardens thoroughly, so after checking out of the hotel (they held our bags), we took an excursion to the Gardens. This worked out very well because we couldn't check onto the ship until mid afternoon. Keukenhof was one of those infrequent attractions that not only lived up to expectations but far exceeded them. My companion Barbara is the flower person, and while I'm not a flower nut, I do like photography, so we were both euphoric with what we found at Keukenhof. Not only were the flowers, landscaping and scenery unspeakably beautiful, but the grounds went on and on, with a new breathtaking scene around every bend. I brought 3 cameras, with two sets of batteries for each and was down to my last emergency battery when we had to leave. We were really glad that we would be back in another week with the ship's tour, because there is way too much to see and absorb in one visit. THE VIKING SKY After retrieving our bags from the hotel storage, we took a taxi to the Viking Sky. This ship is middle aged by ship standards, having been built in 1998, but it has been well maintained and is clean and attractive. The advantage of this ship, and one of the reasons we booked it, was that all the cabins (except the suites) are identical in size and layout, except for the windows. Thus by booking one of the 3 lowest category cabins, we saved over $1000 compared to the cabin right next to us. We found the cabin comfortable and adequate in size, but the bathroom lighting was terrible, according to Barbara, and the walls were paper thin. We heard our neighbors cough and even identified the sound of a digital camera powering up from the cabin next door. This was definitely not a crowd of party animals, however, so noise from adjoining cabins was not a problem. What was a problem was the air conditioning unit for the ship that was located near our cabin. The compressor cycled on and off regularly and annoyingly, but thanks to ear plugs, sleep was not compromised. Other than these annoyances, the cabin was fine. We found the food very good, with an ample breakfast buffet and a choice of a light lunch in the lounge, or a more complete meal in the dining room. Dinner was single seating with a choice of two entrees, plus a vegetarian offering and the always available chicken or steak. The service was excellent. THE ITINERARY The ship remained overnight in Amsterdam our first night, and an included canal cruise and Van Gogh museum excursion were scheduled for the next morning. The Van Gogh Museum was excellent, and it was nice to bypass the throngs of people waiting to buy tickets. The included headphones provided an excellent narration for us culturally impaired tourists, but the throngs inside the museum made it difficult to see and appreciate all the paintings. Nevertheless, the excursions were interesting and good. That evening we sailed for Horn, arriving late in the evening. The next morning we had a walking tour of this picturesque fishing village, huddled against the cold on a raw, windy day. As the morning progressed, however, the weather improved and a glimpse of sun appeared, giving us hope for the rest of the week. The ship sailed in the afternoon for Volendam. This is the Costa Maya of Holland. A completely rebuilt city designed to attract and cater to tourists, this was a crowded and forgettable place. The ship offered a free excursion to a local wooden shoe and cheese manufacturing site, which we took for lack of anything better to do. It was predictably touristy, but the price was right. The ship sailed that night for Arnhem. Unfortunately, the scheduled tour to the Palais Het Loo was not available since the palace and grounds are closed on Monday. An afternoon tour of the Arnhem battle grounds was substituted, which left the morning available. The ship offered an optional tour to an open air market, but we opted to take a local train to the picturesque town of Nijmegen. This was a lot of fun, and we enjoyed seeing the local countryside and browsing a local market in the town square, surrounded by a majestic church. The efficient and convenient train service had us back in Arnhem in time for lunch on the ship. In the afternoon, we took the included tour of the battlefields and museums associated with Operation Market Garden of "A Bridge Too Far" fame. Being a World War II buff, I found the tour interesting and the cemetery moving, but I suspect the majority of passengers would have preferred the palace tour. The ship sailed late in the afternoon for Nijmegen, where we had visited earlier in the day, but it arrived late at night where a group of local performers embarked for a mediocre display of local dancing in wooden shoes. Whoopee! A few hard core gamblers went ashore to a local casino, which, interestingly, required a foreign passport to gain entrance. I guess they didn't want to take advantage of the locals! The next day we awoke in Dodrecht for our tour of the windmills at the village of Kinderdijk. One windmill was open for the hoards of tourists while a host of other windmills lined up for photographs. Unfortunately, our guide got the time confused, and we had to be back at the bus well before we actually left, severely curtailing our free time and photographic opportunities. So much for his tip! The afternoon was at our leisure in Dodrecht, so we climbed the tower of the Grote Kerk Church for scenic panoramas, and strolled through the streets of this picturesque city. We sailed around 4 under sunny skies for our next stop, Antwerp, Belgium. The trip to Antwerp was not particularly picturesque - imagine a watery New Jersey Turnpike near Newark - but it was nice to be sailing and moving into new territory. The included tour the next morning was to Brussels. After a 10am departure to avoid morning rush hour traffic, we visited the Automaton, symbol of the 1958 World's Fair, and spent time in the central square of Brussels. The emphasis there was mostly on the stomach: loaded Belgium waffles, Belgium chocolate and Duvel (Devil) Beer. Overnight, the ship relocated to Ghent in preparation for our next excursion to Brugge, Belgium. Other than Keukenhof, this was the highlight of the trip. This lovely, historic town built within a river (moat), was picturesque and interesting. We opted to stay in town for the afternoon while others went back to the ship after the morning tour. We climbed the church tower, ate lunch at an outdoor cafe, drank Brugge Blonde Beer, bought chocolate - not enough - at Dumon's, and generally had a delightful tourist day under unseasonably warm and sunny skies. That night we sailed to a small yacht harbor where we disembarked the next morning for a tour of the Delta Works Project. This ambitious and expensive flood control project was undertaken by the Dutch after the devastating floods of 1953, and is truly an engineering marvel, designed to control the sea under all conditions. After the tour, the bus drove to a new port where the ship met us for the remainder of the trip to Rotterdam. That evening, the ship stopped briefly in Rotterdam to pick up a local group of singers called the "Sea Chanters." They were actually very good, and performed just for the enjoyment of singing - and the free Heinekins! The Viking Sky sailed for Amsterdam after disembarking the Sea Chanters, arriving early in the morning. That morning, Saturday April 27, was the day for the ship's tour to Keukenhof Gardens. The good news: the weather was warm and sunny, and the flowers were at or close to their peak. The bad news: this was a weekend, and a weekend that featured the world famous flower parade that passed directly in front of Keukenhof Gardens. The result: crowds of indescribable magnitude. Fortunately, our tour arrived relatively early in the morning, and the beauty of the flowers and trees exceeded the increased people count. It was amazing the difference one week meant. The grass has greened up, the trees had filled out and the flowers were just magnificent. We opted to stay at the gardens after the tour bus left and made our own way back to the ship via the bus/train from the airport. The extra time was well worth it, but by the time we left, the crowds were so large that it was almost impossible to even walk along the trails. And now, an editorial note. I hope there is a special Hell for those tourists who are never content just to take pictures of a beautiful natural site. THEY HAVE TO BE IN IT! So, while you are trying to take a photo of a beautiful flower grouping, there is a tourist tromping on the grass (despite the "Stay Off" signs) in front of flowers grinning foolishly and totally ruining the picture! There, I've vented..... Back on the ship by mid afternoon, we relaxed on deck, rested and started the always unpleasant job of packing. Surprisingly, the captain's farewell dinner was scheduled for this, our last day on board, which was somewhat unusual but was still enjoyable. No tuxes or formal gowns were seen, but the dress was a notch above the other days. The next morning we took a cab to the airport, coordinated by the ship, for which we shelled out 45 Euros. Since we were flying to Munich to connect for our flight, the process time at the airport was less than for the flights flying directly to the States. We were there about 2 hours early, which on a Sunday morning, was more than enough time. CONCLUSION This was a most enjoyable cruise, with the flowers at Keukenhof clearly being the star of the trip. Timing the flower's peak in the notoriously unpredictable Dutch weather is a challenge, and if you can allow yourself an opportunity to go more than once, at different times, as we did, that can be a good hedging strategy. The primary downside to this itinerary is the fickle weather (we lucked out, no rain at all, but it was cool early in trip) and the atrocious exchange rate of the Euro. Fortunately, booking the cruise well in advance and paying in dollars insulated us somewhat from the full impact of the weak dollar. Oh, one other downside: once you have seen Keukenhof, every other garden you visit the rest of your life will suffer in comparison. If you are interested in viewing some of my pictures of Keukenhof Gardens, you can log onto www.dutchgardenofeden.site.shutterfy.com. Any questions - drop me an email at ship@vnet.net. Read Less

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