My wife and I sailed on the first Danube Waltz of the season and had a wonderful time. There were a couple of minor issues during the cruise. To us, these were no big deal and expected since we understood that this was the FIRST cruise of the season and about a third of the crew were new to the ship/itinerary. The weather was chilly and damp for most of the trip, but the staff and the ship were warm and very hospitable. We enjoyed meeting and mixing with all of the crew. We even "adpoted" one of the servers who was going through some home/family withdrawl. Most of the guests we met were nice too with the exception of a few couples that were overly demanding and very unappreciative of the effort put in by the staff. We even had one lady from Derbyshire feel slighted because she felt shorted on the number of caviar eggs garnishing her entree.
The breakfasts were wonderful and plentiful. They really fueled their passengers for a day of exploration. Everyday there was something different to discover on the buffet so you didn't have to repeat any meal twice unless that's what you aimed to do. We even enjoyed the options for dining at lunch. If you wished, you could eat buffet-style in the lounge or sit in the dining room for a more structured setting. Dinners were always interesting thanks to the open seating and varying menus. For those not ready to be gastronomically adventurous, there were always three standard entrees availabe (grilled steak, chicken or salmon and a Caesar salad).
The standard shore excursions were informative, especially since local guides were used. The headsets provided by Viking ensured that each passenger could hear what the guides said. The great thing about the standard shore excursions is that your are never forced to debark the ship and join the rest of the passengers for that day's tour(s). For instance, my wife and I had already visited Salzburg and Vienna a few years earlier. We knew Salzburg could be a bit congested with other tourists and didn't feel like riding on a coach to get there and back to the ship. We also knew, from spending a week in the city back in 2004, that Vienna offered too much to see in one day. We chose not to join the Viking excursions and explored Linz by ourselves and then rode Vienna's U-Bahn to where we wanted to revisit during our stop there. The massive abbey in Melk is not to be missed!
The optional shore excursions were well varied and, from what we were told by those who chose to participate, good value for money. We chose the winery excursion in Dürnstein and thoroughly enjoyed the tour and tasting. We even brought some Wachau Valley wine back home with us. Delicious!!
Budapest, we found out, is another city that requires further exploration. Arriving in port at night after dinner when it seemed the whole city was illuminated - brilliant touch. The standard tour Viking provided was enough, for us, to get our interest level very high. My wife and I did some further exploration of some of the sights after the tour and even arranged to have dinner that night in town thanks to the excellent concierge, David.
We used Viking's embarkation/debarkation services for the cruise. Their pickup in Munich and drop-off in Budapest airports were achieve without any problems whatsoever.
We can't wait for our schedules to allow us another cruise with Viking.
We hope that the Danube River valley recover fully from this past year's flooding soon. We were fortunate to sail prior to the devastation of the region.