Many reviews essentially repeat what others have said which is good in that they reinforce others' voices. But what we want to stress are a couple of points not often made. First, two major differences between river and ocean cruising; and second, the differences between cruising and land-touring.
The first point:
. The smaller number of passengers means that we actually got to know several other travelers. Together for two weeks, we often ate, lounged, and walked together, whereas on the larger ships, we might not ever see the same person twice (unless meal seating is designated). With Viking, dining seats are not assigned, so you can rejoin (or avoid) people you've already met.
. We were never more than 5 minutes from any part of the ship...no need to pack a lunch for a trip to the library or the observation deck. Need something in the room or want to change your sweater?...you'll be back before your tea gets cold. Very convenient.
The second point:
In the past 40 years, we have made numerous trips to, and driven thousands of miles through, most of Europe. This time however, we wanted to experience the unique point-of-view that the middle of the river provides. We may one day return by car to some of the port cities we visited, but we thoroughly enjoyed being able to see the hundreds of miles of river valley between them. There were literally hours of cruising in which we could not see a road, vehicle or town...something you can't do by car.
No worrying about parking, choosing a hotel or restaurant, packing and unpacking, getting lost, or dealing with local drivers. Totally relaxing, 3-meals-a-day.
Our next trip will likely be a road trip, as we may find a village where we'd like to spend more than a single day, or an unsigned road that might have an adventure at its end. But we will be back on a river one day.
This was the Viking Danube's antepenultimate cruise; one more round trip between Budapest and Amsterdam and she'll no longer be part of the Viking fleet. An "older" ship, she was still everything we were looking for on a 1200 mile journey, so we are assuming that Viking's new ships are terrific.
Viking was wonderful. Every detail had been anticipated, due to 30+ years of cruising. Tours, crew and staff, meals... we were never disappointed and have recommended the line to many friends.