I have to say that this cruise was well run and very enjoyable. Some people might criticize the pace of the cruise as too fast but it was exactly what I was looking for in a river cruise. Each day was a new port, there were activities available all day, and the tours offered where included or at a very fair price. We participated in activities every day and we were busy all day, every day but you are not required to take every shore excursion. The cruise can be as relaxing as you wish. You can go off on your own if you wish. It allowed us to cover more territory in a week than any other method of travel in reasonable luxury. The food on board was very good and there was a good selection to choose from. The cabins on the new longboats were comfortable and practical and made very good use of the space available. I never felt cramped. The ability to travel Europe and never have to leave the same comfortable room cannot be overstated. Every aspect of the cruise itself was outstanding and if I have to find a criticism, it would be that the internet connection was not as reliable as it could have been and docking the boat with the satellite disk under a bridge one day did drop the internet and TV for that day. On the other hand, having TV and internet at all beats most other options available and I was still able to keep in touch enough to keep my business going while I was out.
Now for the negative. Viking Cruise lines are clearly an unequaled river cruise line but they are a below average travel agency. Being able to book entire trip including stay-overs and airfare appears convenient and supports the cruise business, but I suspect this travel agency is run separately from the cruise line and it shows. Their primary interest is locking in the original booking and after that, it is difficult to get anything else done or even get a callback. The information concerning the cruise is very complete and available on the website but the other travel arrangements are not and the information you receive concerning these other travel arrangements may change after you book the trip. They are out to book the additional arrangements and are a bit loose with facts. Here is the story:
Viking may offer free or deeply discounted airfare but here are many conditions that are far from clear when you book it. Extra charges if you want inputs into the airlines or arrival and departure times. Extra charge to arrive earlier or leave later. Extra charge to not book their hotels for extended stays. They will tell you that you can use your frequent flyer privileges with your airline for your benefit but you can't. You can only upgrade through Viking at extra charges and miles than the airline requires. They will tell you that you can upgrade through the airlines but this is not true. By the way, this is not a requirement of the airlines or fare class. I had a long talk with United Airlines and they were willing to give me the upgrade, but the agreement they had with Viking did not allow them to do it. It's a locked in profit center for Viking no matter what the agent tells you when you book the trip. When I tried to get my standard upgrade with United, Viking told me it would cost $9000 for them to allow United to give me the upgrade. Welcome to the bait and switch! I tried to talk to someone in management (Rose) about this problem; she said she would get back to me. I called her back and another person told me she was too busy. After that, I didn't hear from her or anyone again. At this point. I had no options at any cost.
Summary; Viking is an amazing cruise line and a lousy travel agency. I recommend the cruise but be very leery of the airfare deals and consider booking your own travel. We would have been better off.