Viking Skadi Cruise Review by phinaeus: Amsterdam - Budapest; smooth sailing but tired by the end!
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Amsterdam - Budapest; smooth sailing but tired by the end!
Destination: Europe - River Cruise
I booked on impulse late and got the last available cabin,but it was an upgrade for the price and on the top deck which gave excellent views. Amsterdam to Budapest and the lot in between, including locks. The cruise blogs tell you that these cruises are different from those on the ocean and its very true. Only 180 passengers with 50 crew, so you get to know most people and the crew members get to know you. But you need stamina.
Viking have inclusive visits at each stop and these are perfectly adequate for seeing the area. The breaking up of the groups into normal/ adventurous, and slow for those with limited get up and go was good. Yes there are optional excursions (at a price),but if you do your homework, and unless it is really something you NEED to see, you can use Shank's pony and explore on your own. You need to pace yourself and NOT go back to the boat after the morning tour for that lunch and free booze. Have a good breakfast (but not excessive), take some fruit and More find somewhere for coffee whilst you explore. So you also need discipline.
Now the food - yes there is an awful lot of it, and whilst some grazed and drank their way through each day, if you are sensible you will again apply common sense. Some people think that because they've paid for it they must consume it. A big gripe are the individuals who fill their plates then leave half of it. Would they do that at home ....perhaps. But it is plain insulting to those who have prepared what are excellent dishes, and coming from a family who number chefs and caterers in their ranks (not me I'm a medic), I do not understand this mentality. We had free beer and house wines and these are quite adequate. Now you can buy special wines etc but for many who have saved for this type of holiday - is there any need?. Viking home wines are perfectly palatable. A word of warning. They do offer an alcohol "silver deal" where you can upgrade your wines and beers, cocktails and drink yourself into oblivion. You'd need to - at a cost equivalent to £200. Don't bother.
Dress code interested us. It was described as casual, but what we discovered was this meant different things depending on where you came from! The evening dinner was a 5 course affair equivalent to a good restaurant in its layout, service and food. We liked to get dressed into what I would call smart casual - its all part of this sort of holiday; so shower, shave and into a shirt and tie with smart sports jacket, whilst the other half had a range of accessories she could switch around. First night we seemed to be the only ones who bothered. Gradually the women started making an effort and eventually some of the men. But even for the captain's farewell dinner some stayed in the clothes they had worn all day. Can't understand it but then I'm a traditional Brit and even wore a tie at the coalface when the NHS clip boards told us we shouldn't.
The Skadi was a fabulous ship, one of this years new ships and very well appointed. The staff were welcoming and attentive and got to be very friendly as long as you responded in kind. They certainly worked hard and long hours This was an excellent holiday that I would recommend to anyone as you covered so much ground and got to those towns and cities that you otherwise wouldn't. Yes it IS tiring and if you can I'd advise s few days city stop-over at the end if you can afford the time and money. We did ours independently of Viking in Budapest - had a boutique hotel at a fraction of the cost of the posh hotels Viking use (see review on tripadvisor - Brody House). The extra days let you unwind and slow down on food etc.
If I have one gripe it is the advice given on tipping. This is not natural to those of us from the UK, (Canada and Oz as well and we had some discussions that showed broad agreement on the points I'm raising). The recommended rates should be ignored and individuals should not feel obliged to pay up. After all some who have saved their pennies for this special holiday may well not be able to afford this extra expense. It would be better if the cruise company paid their staff a good rate rather than hinting they could double or treble their income with tips and it was included in the price. Some firms already do this. Also don't be fobbed off into adding any tips to your bill at the end (mine came to 29 euros, but I am one of the last big spenders; and that included some laundry). If you want to leave a tip, use the envelopes and specify who they are to go to - or hand them to the individual themselves whilst saying thank-you.
So would we travel with Viking again. Yes definitely.. I'm already trying to chose between 2 itineraries for 2015. Less
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