This was our fifth Viking cruise within the last 3 years and we have another booked so we are fans of the brand. If you book on an early offer price they are rarely bettered in our experience.
This trip was booked for 2 reasons.We are fans of German Xmas markets plus we wanted to try out a new Viking longship--as they call their new design. They have launched several this year with more to come in 2013.
Ordinarily we have not booked a french balcony cabin as even on a deal a standard plain window cabin is coming in at around Â£155 each a day which is plenty but that does include an excursion a day plus house wine or beer with lunch and dinner (and bottled water plus tea/coffee from a machine 24/7).
This time was no exception but it proved to be a mistake.
Every time you used the bathroom plumbing noises were very evident in the cabin so if one was taking a shower the other endured a racket in the main cabin as the water flowed through the pipework.It was even louder in the bathroom . Additionally if another boat or barge was passing by then you picked up its engine noise from about 4 lengths before to about 4 after.And this was even if the boat was passing on the opposite side of our ship.
We resorted to sleeping with wax earplugs to try and get some uninterrupted sleep--but with difficulty
I wondered if the extra noise on the longship was due to its construction--maybe aluminium was used for lightness and strength.No one will tell me.I am surprised that they have built so many to the same plan without introducing just one and getting feedback on its "wrinkles" and then sorting them out.
We were not alone in our criticism .Others near us complained of the same when we mixed as we ate and chatted about the cruise.(all open seating).So we will not travel on the lower deck on one of these again!
Having said all that the remainder of the ship was fine --very light and airy.A bit short on seating in the main lounge for daily briefings if everyone turned up. Breakfasts and lunch were mainly buffet style and food choices good but unexceptional.Dinners were served after ordering usually from a choice of 3 on the menu and were very good indeed in our view.To us the house white is indifferent and the red just about palatable but it is included in the price paid.
The itinerary was the standard Amsterdam to Basel with some very good daily stops but being december we had xmas markets for 5 days out of 7 to enjoy in and around the standard sightseeing tours.And snow on 5 out of 7 also which made the Black Forest coach trip quite magical.
Will we go back on Viking? Certainly but regettably will have to pay more to be higher up if the booked trip is on one of these new ships in which case we will go less often.
Having written to Viking about the noise levels we are still waiting for their comments if indeed they do bother to reply