We were on the beautiful new long ship Magni on the Grand European Tour from Amsterdam to Budapest. This was our second Viking cruise so we had some expectations as to how fabulous our trip would be. We were traveling with friends who had not been on a cruise before.
We were met at the airport by the Viking staff as promised. They told us that the ship had electrical problems discovered during the previous cruise that were repaired but that the ship was not in Amsterdam. We were taken to a very nice Amsterdam hotel from which we were easily able to tour around the city. The next morning we were greeted by two buses (half the Viking guests were in another hotel) to go off to the Kinderdijk Windmills tour. The bus trip, tour, lunch and bus ride lasted all day and we arrived at the ship in time for dinner that night. Our bags had been delivered from the hotel and we were ready to start our cruise.
About midnight, on our way to Cologne, as we were leaving a lock (there are 66 on the trip), the first mate made a miscalculation and we ran aground. After much revving of the side thrusters the boat was able to break free. We had to dock immediately and apparently authorities had to be informed. The next day buses again arrived, this time to drive us to Cologne for the day's tour. Since the boat was not in Cologne, and probably because they wanted us all out of the way while they took care of business, the half day tour turned into a full day, half of it on the tour, half on our own. Because the weather was cold and rainy, the second half of the day was long and tiring. You couldn't sit in the outside areas and we didn't want to eat again since our tour had included an ample lunch. If the boat had been in Cologne we would have been able to walk back to the ship and relaxed for part of the afternoon.
When we got back to the ship we were informed that the divers had not yet arrived and that we would get an update after dinner. The update at 9:00 was that the divers found a dent in the propeller but one that wouldn't affect our performance and that we were now on our way...having lost 18 hours of travel time.
I won't give you a daily play by play but this mishap affected our cruise for one week. Because of the multiple locks you can't just speed up and make up 18 hours of travel time. Until the second week we were never in the town/village we were scheduled to be and as a result half day tours turned into full days tours. We were really exhausted after a week of this. This was not the leisurely trip we had promised our friends.
The second week went perfectly and even the weather improved to the point that we were experiencing Indian Summer in Budapest.
Because the Magni is brand new, everything was spotless and up to date. Each room had a TV, although many times the programs we chose were not available. I'm not complaining about that, just making an observation. We didn't take a cruise to watch TV. The staff was WONDERFUL. The Program Director, Marek, did a spectacular job in managing the frustrations that people were experiencing. His calm presence and good humor helped a lot.
The breakfast was predictable and I enjoyed the lunch and dinner selections. My husband thought they were bland. I have read other reviews complaining about the speed of the service but either we didn't experience it or we were enjoying the company at the meals that we didn't notice. Every meal has open seating so we sat with different people all of the time. We enjoyed getting to know so many fellow passengers.
We extended our trip by adding three days in Prague. In reality it isn't three days in Prague when you spend one day (8 hours) driving there on a bumpy road. Maybe if we hadn't spent so much time on buses the first week I wouldn't have minded it but we had enough of buses to last a long time. The 23-year old Viking escort on the bus prattled on and off for 8 hours describing the area and what he knew 2nd hand about living under Communism. Just when you found yourself dozing he would start up again.
The balance of our time in Prague was wonderful. All of our local guides on the trip was outstanding. Viking does a good job weeding out less knowledgeable and personable guides.
Our cruise ended two weeks ago and I would have expected to be contacted by Viking about our experience. Our voyage was adversely affected not by conditions outside of their control (such as the flooding Europe experienced in the Spring), but by the carelessness of one of their employees. This experience (the grounding) impacted our enjoyment of half of our cruise. While we were able to keep to the touring schedule there were daily comments about not signing up for a bus tour but a river tour. Some guests were rethinking plans to take another cruise with Viking. We'll see if our future plans are impacted.