This was the 3rd sailing of the Viking Idun. We sailed on the Tulips & Windmills River Cruise in April 2012. Our cruise had people from the US, Canada, UK, Netherlands, and a few other places, but the bulk of the passengers were clearly from North America. The ships staff was very international, with folks from the Netherlands, Philippines, Slovakia, and many other places. English was widely spoken in all ports, and was the language used by the cruise ship staff.
Ship was brand new, so cleanliness and decor were excellent. Cabins are located on decks 1 (main deck),2 (middle deck), and 3 (upper deck), with a large sundeck on deck 4 (sun deck). Most cabins are on deck 2, along with the hotel desk and restaurant. The lounge/bar and small library are on deck 3, with an elevator and stairs to move between floors. On deck 3, outside the lounge, was an open air area on the bow of the ship named the Aquavit Terrace, which had table and chairs used to eat, read, etc. It became our favorite part of the ship when weather allowed. We did not use the sundeck much due to weather, but I can see it being a popular spot in the summer months. Free Internet access was available, but was sometime very slow. A limited number of 'loaner' laptops were available to check email, etc.
Cabins are relatively small, but remember this is a river boat vs. a large cruise ship. We had a french balcony room (2nd deck, with a large floor to ceiling patio door, which opened... but no balcony) which was nice and offered a great view. Bathrooms had a shower with removable wand type head. Cabin service and cleanliness was excellent. Closet space was limited, and included a safe and 4 shelves. There were also 4 drawers and a mini-refrigerator in the cabin. Space under the bed was open for suitcase storage, etc. We had no issues with cabin storage... but it's definitely challenging for 2 people moving about in the cabin at the same time. But we simply used the cabin to shower, dress, and sleep, so it was not an issue. Cabins had multiple 110V and 220V power outlets, so we used all our US devices without converters. Each room had individual heating/air conditioning controls, and a large screen TV with TV, music, and movies.
Restaurant food quality was very good. Portions were more towards the European side vs. the huge American style, but there was always plenty offered to meet any appetite. Dress was casual (open collar shirts for men, pants/skirts for women). The last night was the captain's dinner, were some folks dressed a bit more, but most followed the causal dress of previous nights.
Breakfast was a buffet, with some additional 'order from the kitchen' menu options each day. Buffet had fresh fruits and breads/danish, made-to-order eggs and omelette's, various bacon and sausage options, etc. Some days there as also beans, mushrooms, etc. Buffet also has hot oatmeal with fruit topping options, extensive meat/cheese choices, salmon and herring on most days, yogurts, and many more choices. There was even sparkling wine each morning for mamosa's! The 24 hour coffee/tea/hot chocolate station also had danish in the early morning, and cookies in the afternoon.
Lunch was served in both the restaurant and upstairs on the Aquavit outdoor deck. The restaurant lunch was more extensive, but the experience on the outdoor deck was outstanding. When weather permitted, we always sat upstairs in the outdoor area. Beer, wine, and soft drinks were available at lunch for no extra charge.
Dinner in the restaurant always had at least 3 starter/appetizer choices, 3 main courses, and 3 dessert options. And there was always steak, salmon, and at least on other option available if the days menu did not suit your taste, and a cheese plate was always offered as well. Beer, wine, soft drinks, and tea/coffee were free flowing at dinner, at no extra charge. We drank the the wine included for free, and found it to be very good in nearly all cases. Beer choices were good... we had 1 draft bear and at least 5 bottle beer choices. Tables were not assigned in the restaurant... first come, first served. But there is space for everyone, and after a day or so, people seemed to settle into the 'standard' table for the balance of the cruise. The wait staff was attentive and friendly, but there may have been a bit understaffed... 3 or 4 more waiters may have been helpful. But dinners were leisurely, and the room load and lively with everyone having a great time.
The bar was good, and the bar staff very attentive and friendly. The bar/lounge area was a bit small for 190 passengers, so be sure to get there few minutes early for schedule events to ensure a good seat. There was always a pianist playing during the evening hours. Outside of the meal times, beer and drinks cost extra.. from 5-7 EUR typically, as I recall.
The Program Director and staff were outstanding, dealing patiently with endless questions and the need to repeat themselves for folks who didn't listen or comprehend the information the first time around. They were friendly, informative, and displayed a good sense of humor to diffuse the little situations that inevitably pop up on cruises. Shore excursions were interesting, and generally led by local guides. Tipping of the local guides was optional, but most people gave guides 3 EUR per couple, and when bus/coach transfers were included, about 1 EUR for the driver. A Viking staff member was in every group to insure guide quality and handle and passenger issue that might arise. Many city walking tours allowed a 2nd, later return to the ship, to allow even more time for individual exploration of the city.
By my estimates, this was largely a 60+ crowd, with only a few people in the late 40's and 50 range. They did offer 'leisure' excursion options at each port to accommodate folks with more limited mobility, but the pace of the regular tours was generally slow. There was always free time on the excursions, so that allowed the more mobile to explore on their own, at their own pace. Each person had a small receiver and earpiece to hear the guides on shore excursions, which was outstanding. Evening entertainment was modest, in the form of cultural/educational lectures and local folk demonstrations (wooden shoe carving, folk dancers, folks singers). This was not a late night party crowd... it was generally very quiet by midnight. We did not experience extravagant after dinner entertainment of a lot of partying after dinner.
In Amsterdam, the ship docked just west of the Central train station for embarkation, which made arrival and the first 2 days exploration in Amsterdam very easy. We walked everywhere, but many folks took the public tram system to get to the southern portions of Amsterdam (it was about 2.70 EUR for a trip, or just over 7.00 EUR of a day pass on the trams, as I recall. You bought tickets directly on the tram from the conductors). For dis-embarkation, we docked at the PTA terminal, which is definitely a bit farther west than were we embarked. Probably an extra 15 minutes of walking vs. the original location.
At embarkation, I pre booked and prepaid a car with Amsterdam Taxi Services
(www.Amsterdamtaxiservices.nl) for 60.00 EUR. The driver was waiting for us outside of customs with a name card. A short walk across the driveway to a waining car that held the 4 of us plus luggage easily. For departure, the ships desk booked us a normal taxi, which costs a total of 58.00 EUR for the rise to the airport. Both transfers were fast and easy with no issues.