Viking Prestige August 26-September9,2012-- Budapest to Amsterdam
First a little about us--we are in our 60's & this was our first river cruise after having taken many ocean cruises and land tours. We started with a 3 night pre-cruise in Budapest--all planned on our own. What a wonderful city! We starting touring within hours of getting off the plane & kept going until we sailed away with Viking.
Embarkation was quick and easy mid-afternoon. We dropped our luggage at the ship & went back out to finish just a few more sites we wanted to view. Our cabin on the main deck was approximately 155 square feet with a French balcony--not large, but more than adequate. There was more storage than some larger cabins we have had on much larger ocean ships. The shower had a clothes line which came in handy as I needed to wash some things as we were away 19 days.
DINING-We had a corporate chef with us instead of the regular chef who was on vacation. Both breakfast & lunch were buffets with many selections & even freshly cooked eggs or omelets for breakfast. You could also order off a menu. There also was a lighter lunch upstairs in the Aquavit Lounge on the upper deck. Two lunches were served on the sun deck. Meals were open seating with no reserving of tables. Our group of 10 always wanted to sit together for dinner so we made sure someone from our group was one of the first into the dining room & got "our table". Our waiter & his assistant were excellent. For dinner, there were 3 choices of entree plus some other regular selections always offered. Some of my dinner choices were: surf/turf, rack of lamb, wiener schnitzel, chicken, fish, and osso buco. Portions were not huge, but more than adequate. Desserts were delicious. Wine and beer were always included with lunch & dinner. The glasses were kept full. There was a 24/7 beverage station & cookies were served mid-afternoon.
STAFF-everyone was friendly, helpful & went out of their way to make our cruise wonderful. Most staff members had several different jobs & worked long hours.
TOURS-in every city we had a tour. Some were just walking tours; others were a combination of walking & buses. Local guides met us in all places, but there was a Viking staff member always with us, too. The guides used "Whisper Boxes" so you could hear easily. Some guides were excellent; some were just good. I won't go into all of the many places we visited or this review would be much too long. One of my concerns had been water levels on the Danube, Main or Rhine Rivers. We were very lucky & they were fine the whole trip. We went thru 68 locks. In each port, there was some free time to wander, shop or just experience any local sights or sounds. There were usually 4 different buses or groups for each tour. Often one group was designated for a more leisurely tour without as much walking & fewer steps. Speaking of steps, our ship did not have an elevator. There were several optional tours available at fairly reasonable prices. We only did the Mozart & Strauss Concert in Vienna which was wonderful & the "Romantic Road to Rothenburg" in Wurzburg which was another winner. My DH did the beer pub crawl in Cologne which he said was unorganized, but fun.
FELLOW PASSENGERS-almost everyone was from the US or Canada & for many this was their first river cruise. It was a well traveled group with an average age of approximately 70+++. The attire was elegant casual for dinner, but more casual for day time. Very few men wore jackets; most women wore slacks or capris in the evening with a dressy blouse or jacket. The dining room was cool so a light sweater was often necessary.
All in all, I can say "it was a wonderful vacation". Getting off the ship was also quick & easy. The staff had arranged for vans and cabs to get us to the airport. Would I do another Viking cruise? Yes, depending on the itinerary & the ship. The Prestige was only one year old & many of Viking's ships are much older. We like new ships.