After taking a wonderful Viking tour and cruise in the Yangtze river in China I was expecting a wonderful experience on the Rhine. The TV and Web promotions for this trip from Viking were also very enticing.
My first surprise was with the meals. The menu showed a regular 3 course dinner "à la Americain" instead of a 5 course dinner "à la europeen". We were in Switzerland,France,Germany and Netherlands, after all! Table stewards were obviously fewer than expected and dishes took a long, long time to arrive. Food was well prepared but not traces of "gourmet" at all as promoted.
Second surprise was the lack of enthusiasm the program director showed for the places we were going to visit. His presentations were obviously taken from Wikipedia and did not have the kind of information we have had in other river cruise lines in Europe or even from Viking in China. Obviously for this young program director, this was yet another trip on the same river with boring people that are not interested in history.
Third surprise was no folkloric presentations at all. I was expecting at least some traditional French Alsatian and German Black Forest singing and dancing groups for entertainment on board and/or during the excursions. None whatsoever. The people who entertained on board or on the excursions played a couple of traditional songs and then only American popular songs. I had to ask the pianist to play some French and German traditional music!
Two excursions were obviously designed just for drinking. Specially disappointing was the visit to Drosselgasse in Rudesheim. First, four people on the group were left behind because we were slow walkers and wanted to take pictures. Since the program director did not tell us the name of the Restaurant we were going to we got totally lost. We finally backtracked our steps and saw the program director at the door of a restaurant. They had a group of musicians who again played a couple of polkas an then only American music. The dinner was also "à la Americain" starting with a lettuce salad and the, what Americans think is traditional "German", pork, mash potatoes and sauerkraut. No local food choices on that dinner. Lots of white cheap wine and some extra high alcohol kummel, or similar, that people had to drink from metal glasses screwed to a pole.
The other drinking excursion was to taste beer in a biergarten in Cologne. I decided to skip it after the experience in Rudesheim.
All in all I think the Viking Sun ship is a little run down and the best personnel of Viking was sent to the new 10 river longships they inaugurated in this year 2013. Hope quality in my next trip on Viking will compare to the tour-cruise in China which I really recommend.