Viking Helvetia Cruise Review by Baileyswedishfish: Thoroughly Enjoyed Viking Helvetia from Basel to Amsterdam
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Thoroughly Enjoyed Viking Helvetia from Basel to Amsterdam
Destination: Europe - River Cruise
My husband and I (early 50s) and two adult sons (early 20s) traveled in May on Viking's Helvetia from Basel to Amsterdam. It a second Viking cruise for my husband and I, a first for the kids.
We were in lower level cabins and were quite suprised at how spacious the rooms, bathrooms and storage were. The ceilings were quite high, preventing the cabins from feeling cave-like. Our windows were large picture windows at water level. The rooms were very clean and were well cleaned and organized every day. Our room stewards were lovely young women who decorated with Happy Birthday signs and cute towel animals on my birthday. They were really happy when I thanked them for remembering my birthday.
Having travelled last winter on Magni on the Danube Waltz, we knew to expect early breakfasts and fairly tight schedules to off shore excursions. They kids were blown away by the expansive breakfast selections--the first morning they discovered how much they needed to pace More themselves! I found fruit, yogurt and a little piece of bakery to be plenty and the guys were all over the cheese and meat boards and traditional breakfast offerings. We have Benz as our server during our trip (we found a table and stuck with it the entire trip) and he was very attentive and quick to know our names and preferences.
My birthday was on our travel-arrival day and my husband had sweetly planned ahead and ordered a birthday cake. The entire service crew came over to sing happy birthday and I got a lovely mango cheesecake, beautifully decorated and plenty to share with our table of 4 plus 2 new friends sitting with us. We observed several other celebrations during our week-long cruise. The staff approached me later in the evening as I went back to our cabin and was wished Happy Birthday. I love that attention to detail.
The excursions were fun and informative. My husband and I did the Alsace Wine Road tour and the kids went to Mercedes Benz. We all did Colmar, the Black Forest, Strassbourg, Heidelburg, the evening German Dinner in Rudesheim, Marksburg Castle, Cologne and Kinderdjik. You do have to get up and get moving--there's not a lot of relaxation opportunity on this trip. The one full cruising day was the passage on the middle Rhine as we coasted past castle after castle. We were blessed with gorgeous blue skies and high 70s that day and everyone was on the top take basking in the view. If I have a complaint (ok, it is a complaint) the potty stops are far and few between. I found myself on more than one occassion dodging off into alleys and random galleries looking for a WC while the tour continued on. After a breakfast of coffee and juice and a transport to a location and then another hour or so of walking, I know I wasn't the only one doing the "gotta go" dance. Once a WC was located, the tour guides lost the battle of keeping everyone in line. We did include this comment with suggestions to Viking in our survey they have you fill out at the end.
Our Cruise Director was George and he was really good. Being young, we didn't require a lot of assistance but we did observe him pushing guests in wheelchairs, helping elderly frail guests on and off the boat and bringing walkers to guests in the public areas. He is "on" duty 24 hours a day and even though he fell on the wet gangway and hurt his back and blew his knee out during our cruise, he managed to smile and keep on going. I have a lot of respect for people like George who know they will never be able to please everyone, listens to complainers and still manage to remain calm, gracious and in good humor. Well done George! At the German dinner he joined our table and sat for all of 6 minutes--he kept jumping up to assist, lead, direct and entertain.
We have a third Viking cruise booked for December. We loved the Christmas markets and plan to do the Heart of Germany cruise. We've recommended Viking to several friends (some who've already travelled and concurred that their high expectations were completely exceeded) and will continue to praise and recommend Viking.
My husband and I both work in the Health Care industry with long careers in service--in particular, I work in long term care. I appreciate the challenges of coordinating travel with elderly guests. Viking does, at this point, draw a fairly elder guest cohort--a quick observation of two cruises would say the average age is close to 70-75. Most of the guests are very sprightly and don't need assistance or attention other than just being treated like valued guests. But I thought they really did a great job of atending to the needs of those who needed assistance or a slower pace. (After reading some of the other recent reviews, I wanted to add that--I appreciate everyone has a difference lens through which they experience things, but as one who works in the "industry" I observed a lot of very caring and attentive behaviors on behalf of Viking's team.) Less
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