I sailed from Passau on Viking Danube. Viking do things to a very high standard. Their ships are well designed, the food is quite something considering what must be a relatively small galley, the cabins and berths are very comfortable and the stops and excursions are well thought out. However, good though all these things are, their competitors have the same standards and go to the same places, so they have no real unique selling point.
The minus points and there are many, are as follows. Once you have paid the not inconsiderable sum for your cruise, the crew do everything in their power to squeeze even more money out of you. The evening meal though scheduled for 19.00 hours, doesn`t actually start for the best part of an hour. The time is taken soliciting wine orders. Raffle prizes are cheap trinkets from the small gift shop and the on board photographs are overpriced. Judging by the prices of things supplied by outside agencies, there must be hefty commissions taken by Viking Danube. To then `suggest` a hefty tip at the end of the week is raw greed considering what a guest will have already parted with. I have worked out that if everybody paid the suggested amount, every member of staff would each get a Â£250.00 or so, tip every week. If the company is unable to pay their staff a decent wage for doing their job, then the staff should take it up with their employer rather that ask for a subsidy from the guests.
I also have a major issue with safety. There is no obvious float-free life preservation equipment on the upper deck. If the engines were disabled by a major incident such as a fire or an explosion and say, as a result the ship was taking on water, it would be adrift in a fast flowing river with no means of life preservation for poor swimmers. It is no use the company saying that their ships don`t sink, the `unsinkable` Titanic did !! I should in all fairness, point out that their competitors seem to have the same attitude to passenger safety in an emergency.
I have written at some length about the minus points, but a cruise on the Viking Danube is nevertheless, a good experience with professional staff who do their best to make the cruise a good experience for their guests. Being a seasoned traveller though, perhaps it is easier for me to nit-pick than be overawed by everything.