I am a single male senior, apparently the only one on this cruise. I am told that only 6 of the 90 cabins were occupied singly. I have sailed on over 30 ocean cruises, but this was my first river cruise in Europe.
The flights, arranaged by Viking, involved a change of plane in Madrid, which was not how I expected to get from New York to Amsterdam. My transfer to the ship was in a Mercedes.
Embarkation was very smooth. Unfortunately, because of the flights selected, it was too late for lunch aboard. The dock was convenient to Central Station for those who wished to explore on their own.
The stateroom, though small, was very attractive, all in light woods with translucent doors for the closet and bathroom. There was a mini-refrigerator and both 110v and 220v outlets. The bed was very comfortable. The flat-panel tv was excellent, but there were frequent interruptions in the signal. Since I was on the bottom deck, my window was only half-height. Closet space was ample and there was a room safe. I wish the cabin had a chair, but there was really no space for it. The bathroom, while compact, made good use of the space and had all the essentials. The vacuum system broke down one day, but was fixed within several hours.
The ship is beautiful. Everything is light and airy. The dining room is very attractive. There is also an outdoor area for casual dining forward of the dining room, which would be very pleasant in warmer weather. The lounge is lovely, but a bit too small for full-ship gatherings. The sun deck has ample seating in sun and shade and even an herb garden and solar panels. An elevator connects the middle and upper decks, but not the bottom deck or the sundeck. There is no spa or exercise room. Internet is free, but not always working.
There is no assigned seating in the dining room. Breakfast and lunch are primarilly buffet-style, with other items available to order. Dinner was waiter-served. The level of the food was very high, among the best I have encountered cruising. Portions are small by American standards, but enough for healthy eating. There was complimentary wine and beer at lunch and dinner. Premium beverage packages were available for purchase, but seemed ridiculously expensive. I was surprised how few men wore a jacket for the captain's dinner.
There were very few organized activities onboard except for an early morning stretch class in the lounge. This is really not a problem, because so much of the time is spent either on shore excursions or on enjoying the view. There are no programs for children, so it would be an unsuitable choice for them.
The international staff, mostlly eastern European, were topnotch -- friendly and efficient. The cruise director was very good at her job. There was a concierge, but I did not have occasion to use her services.
After dinner, there was low-key entertainment in the lounge. One night there were clog dancers and another night there was a sea shanty singing group.
The shore excursions ranged from good to excellent. In Amsterdam, the tour included a wonderful canal cruise. Unfortunately it was bitter cold the morning we visited Kinderdijk. The walking tour of Antwerp was excellent. I was disappointed that the tour of Bruges did not include the canal cruise. The optional tour to the Kroller-Muller Museum from Arnhem was excellent. The visit to the Delta Works was very interesting and Hoorn was quite picturesque. Since I use a cane, I was grateful that there was a "gentle walking" group on most of the excursions. The wireless earphone systems that each passenger received greatly added to my enjoyment of the tours.
Disembarkation was well-organized, but I was unhappy to have to leave the ship at 4:45 a.m. to catch a flight to Madrid, where I had to wait several hours for my connecting flight to New York. I wish Viking River Cruises' air arrangements were at the high level of the rest of their operation.
All in all, I was very favorably impressed with Viking River Cruises' first-class operation and sold on the pleasures of a river cruise.