We took the Viking River Cruises Elegant Elbe cruise starting in Prague and ending in Berlin from July 29-August 5, 2012. Having cruised with Viking previously, we expected good service, good food and well organized tours- and we were not disappointed.
The hotel they use in Prague is the Hilton, which is a very nice convention hotel. It is not as convenient to Old Town Prague as others we have stayed in, but it is not too far away and is close to public transportation. Viking includes a short Prague city tour which cannot even touch the highlights in a short time. Anyone wishing to really see Prague needs to come in early. My only complaint here is that our tour was on a Sunday and of course St. Vitus Cathedral is not open to the public while we were there. I believe Viking could have selected an alternative knowing it would be closed (such as the Jewish Quarter). At the very least they could have mentioned this fact in their customized itinerary they sent us prior to the cruise.
Embarkation was very smooth in Melnik. The ship is be nature small to fit on the Elbe and navigate the locks and bridges, and thus has few of the extras of larger ships such as an exercise room and an actual shop rather than a small sales area in the lobby. However this was not a problem, and they did offer a morning exercise program. The cabins are small (110 sq. ft.) but have enough space that the 2 of us did not feel like we were tripping over each other. The free Internet on the ship worked amazingly well, much better than on any ocean cruise line I have been on by an order of magnitude. The one negative of the cabin was the shower, which has no lip on the floor so it is impossible to keep water from getting on the floor throughout the bathroom. Fixing this issue would be very easy and inexpensive for Viking and I am surprised there haven't been enough complaints to make this happen.
The crew was fantastic from the captain on down, always friendly and helpful. The food was very good, with a multitude of choices. Wine is also complimentary with meals. The Tour Director, Christian, made sure the Viking itinerary was executed as planned and he accommodated special needs of passengers whenever humanly possible. He also provided a number of very interesting and entertaining enrichment talks. One thing we always worry about is the quality of the local guides as that can make or break a port stop. On this cruise our guides ranged from very good to outstanding. Special mention goes to Sabine (whom we were lucky enough to have in 3 ports), Silvio and Dieter.
We enjoyed all the ports except Litomorice in the Czech Republic. This would have been a good port choice as well except we were there on a Monday and absolutely nothing was open except gift shops and restaurants. The included tour featured a brewery stop, which we passed up because we have seen breweries before and neither my wife or I are big beer drinkers. All the other ports were excellent choices and most at at least one major highlight if not more, our favorite being Dresden. The trip included Potsdam, which was a stopover on the transfer to Berlin. Again, my only negative comment is that Viking needs to be clear on what they advertise vs. what you get. While our itinerary stated that we would either visit the Sans Soucci Palace or the New Palace, in fact we visited neither. Instead we visited the New Chambers, essentially the gusset house for Sans Soucci. While we were awed and impressed by the inside visit, it would be a simple thing for Viking to include that in the list of alternatives.
We stayed over in Berlin 3 days on our own, and this was a wonderful way to wrap up a most enjoyable vacation. We would definitely recommend this cruise to anyone.