After a very rocky start with Viking's air department (read: do NOT use them), we boarded the Legend in Passau, where we'd added a 3 night pre-cruise stay. Viking had a large concierge desk located at our hotel, the Hilton Prague. Both the hotel and the Viking staff were first class.
After our Prague stay, we were transported to Passau via a comfortable tour bus. The scenery en route was well worth seeing. Upon arriving at our ship, the stewards took our bags to our cabin. The cabin had only 130 s.f., and that worried me a bit before the cruise. But naval architects are ingenious folks, and the cabin worked well due to its layout. Even the shower afforded enough space via design as not to be cramped.
Next, we cruised the entire public area of the ship from the main desk area, to the lounge, to the dining room, and on up to the top deck. The ship was clean, spacious, and well designed. She is five years old, but does not show her age.
There were 188 passengers and 51 crew on board, and by the time we disembarked, we'd met at least half of both categories. Unlike huge ocean liners, Viking's smaller ships foster conversation; we got to know people--lots of people.
And the crew? In a word: wonderful. We've never had customer service that even approaches what we experienced on the Legend. These hard working people were cheerful, helpful, and eager to serve you in whatever way they could. I was amazed. We got to know several couples, as well as two waiters, our cabin steward Marija), our concierge staff (David and Marianne), cruise director (Vlad), and hotel manager (Sasha) very well. We had many conversations with all of them. That should tell you something!
The food? Well, if the Legend were a restaurant, I'd rate it between 4 and 5 stars. The variety, the preparation, and the presentation exceeded our wildest expectations. Of course, with Viking, all wines and beers are included with your meals. Our waiters, Ali and Alexander were attentive and among the funniest people we've met in a long time. If laughter is, indeed, good for digestion, then we are in good shape.
And the head chef, Thomas, even offered a side trip to a city market in Vienna which we took. When we arrived, there were a hundred or more stalls (mostly food). The chef had a long table set up with a variety of appetizer-type items--all at no cost to us. What an unexpected treat.
All meals--breakfast, lunch, and dinner--were well above standard. Did I gain weight? Of course I did. There was even entertainment on some nights: operatic singing; Bavarian music; Hungarian music; and, each night, Peter played softly on his piano in the lounge.
The excursions? Like everything else Viking does, the sightseeing excursions had excellent guides, people who knew their areas, its history, and its little known facets. They were punctual and were more than we'd expected them to be. The cruise director, Vlad, was one of the most intelligent, articulate men I've met in a long time. He is encyclopedic in his knowledge of history, and made compelling presentations throughout the trip.
Upon departure to the Budapest airport, Viking even had someone there to meet us and help us in any way possible. That was, for us, a first. There is no doubt that we will sail with Viking again--no doubt at all. They are a seasoned, polished cruise line and do what they do very, very well. Kudos.
All of our ports were marvelous, even though the heat during our visit was setting records: try 92 to 93 degrees in Vienna and Bratislava (and Prague on our pre-cruise stop). But one port stood out because it was so dramatic!
The captain of the Legend sailed into Budapest at 11:00 p.m. It was suggested that we all go to the top, observation deck. Many of us did and were rewarded with a sight unlike anything I've ever seen: Budapest at night!!!
Amazing lighted bridges greet you, and then all of the city's magnificent buildings and cathedrals and churches are lighted. It was Disney-like in its effect. I took more photos there than any other place simply because of the beauty and completely unexpected scene that unfolded.
The following day, we took Viking's (included) city excursion. Budapest is impressive by anyone's standards. We loved Prague, and went there because several people had told us we should. If we had it to do over again, we would either add Budapest, or make it our pre or post-tour stop.