My husband and I are veteran ocean cruisers ages 52 and 49 and were unsure we would like a river cruise--and now we are absolutely sold on river cruising!! We sailed on the maiden voyage of Viking Hlin July 2nd out of Amsterdam for the Grand European Tour in a aquarium level room 120. We were initially a little nervous due to earlier reported low waters on the Danube--however, by the time we got to the Danube around July 11--there had been enough rain and we had no problems. There were only some minor issues that were out of Viking control that resulted in our cruise being off-track for pulling up at each location-so that we had to be bussed to a few of the excursions (around 1-1.5 hours). I know some of the people complained and were not happy--but I tend to think that I'm on vacation, in a beautiful location and Viking did everything they could to ensure we made every excursion --so why be so upset???
One thing that has really sold us on river cruising is that you almost always have beautiful scenery around you and not just the deep blue sea. It is also very peaceful sailing down the river. We passed through 68 locks and that was so interesting and unusual to us.
The staff was amazing! We had Dewi Klop as our program director and Zsolt as our concierge and both were great!! The rest of the staff always had smiles and greetings and were always willing to offer help.
We booked room 120 because that and the top suite were all that were left-and I felt that our window room was just fine-we were not in the room much anyways. On ocean cruises we always get a balcony or suite and I was concerned I would miss out-but it turned out fine. The room is small but the amenities were nice and the room nicely appointed. There was enough storage for all of our stuff and the suitcases fit under the bed. I did check out the French balcony room and the room was a little smaller depth wise than ours-good to know for future-probably wouldn't book it. We had friends in a suite and that was nice-but for the price they paid not worth the EXTRA $12,000.
Food was good to excellent every day. I'm pretty sure no one went hungry:). Portions were perfect and I did like that we didn't feel stuffed after our meals which is different than the ocean cruises we've been on-keeps the extra pounds off. Not that you can't order more if you were still hungry or really liked something.
I do wish that river cruises would have a small gym available and a Jacuzzi or something for the top deck other than shuffle board and mini golf.
Excursions were fine-not really our style. They were mainly walking tours so we actually didn't take most of them and did our own thing. In Vienna and Budapest we did Segway tours and they were excellent! In Nuremberg we did do the WWII history tour which was interesting being on Zeppelin field and the Nuremberg trials courtroom-but the hubby felt the museum was something he could see on the history channel. There were no artifacts to see-just hand held listening devices to go with photos. The towns were so quaint and lovely-it was nice walking around and taking in all the beauty.
Would we sail a river cruise again? A huge absolutely!! I just need to find the right itinerary!!